Gender Data Dashboards Can Help Drive Women’s Financial Inclusion

Kelsey Ross Mayra Buvinic December 12, 2022

Globally, there is a persistent gender gap in financial inclusion. Having good data is critical in driving women’s financial inclusion. But is sex-disaggregated financial services data an onerous requirement for banks and other financial sector providers? At a recent meeting of the Women’s Financial Inclusion Data Partnership [1], David Taylor, a consultant with ConsumerCentrix, debunked the myth that gender data dashboards are complicated and expensive. Lobna El Bayar, the Chief Information Officer of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), supported this view with Egypt’s recent experience and representatives from the central banks of Nigeria and Bangladesh highlighted their experiences as well.

How financial regulators can approach building gender data dashboards

Taylor began by taking the participants through the basics of developing a gender data dashboard. As he laid out the phases of developing dashboards from buy-in and initial prototyping to development and customization, his key messages were:

  • Creating a gender data dashboard doesn’t have to be expensive and time consuming to explore the value of data visualizations and analysis.
  • Governments should start simple, and they don’t need to have complex data management systems in place to start making data driven decisions.
  • Governments can use free software to develop quick prototypes to help them understand their needs and demonstrate the value of the dashboard.
  • The most effective insights are generated from a combination of transaction-level data (data capturing individual financial transactions) and a universal individual account identifier (a personal ID system that identifies individual’s accounts across financial institutions).
  • Combining gender and location data unlocks insights such as determining whether rural women have different access to finance than those living in urban areas.

The Central Bank of Egypt’s experience building a data hub

In just two years, the CBE has designed and implemented a strategy at the Central Bank, built and launched a data hub, and added gender breakdowns for all key indicators. CBE uses this data to design programs to increase women’s financial inclusion. Egypt’s gender data dashboard is unique in that it includes micro finance institutions and e-wallets, neither of which are regulated by the Central Bank. Echoing Taylor’s remarks that a gender data dashboard doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or time consuming, El Bayar explained that the challenge of this project was not developing the dashboard, but collecting the data from banks, which took a year to begin flowing regularly. Support from the Central Bank was crucial for enabling this data flow.  

The Central Bank of Nigeria will use the unique biometric ID to build a gender data dashboard

Dr. Paul Oluikpe, the Director of the Financial Inclusion Delivery Unit at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) shared that they aim to expand access to financial services to every Nigerian. They are specifically targeting women, those in rural areas, youths, and those in the northeast and northwest, all of whom disproportionately lack access to finance. In Nigeria, all transactions must be linked to a Bank Verification Number (BVN,) a unique biometric ID which is managed by the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS). The NIBSS has the recorded gender of every person with a BVN. This means that CBN can see every transaction history broken down by gender. While this type of data is key to unlocking insights about women’s financial inclusion, collecting it is a big hurdle for many countries and financial institutions.

Like in Egypt, the CBN wants to be able to adapt financial policies based on patterns in the data, providing targeted solutions and products to women to increase their access to financial services. In the current system, regulators and service providers have not had incentives to understand the information sitting in their systems and they do not report it. CBN hopes that the dashboard will demonstrate the value of the data already being collected and the business case for developing women-centered products and services.

Bangladesh Bank’s planned dashboard will enable financial inclusion

Bangladesh Bank has been collecting gender-disaggregated financial data for years and through their Open Data Initiative they publish that data on their website. Md. Saiful Khan, Director of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy at Bangladesh Bank, shared their hopes that the dashboard they are building will enable the Bank to make better use of this data in understanding the current state of the gender gap. As Egypt is currently doing, Khan said that Bangladesh Bank hopes that the dashboard will collect individual level data from banks, mobile finance service providers, micro finance institutions, insurance providers, cooperatives, and the postal service to provide the most accurate picture of financial inclusion. Once this gap is understood, Bangladesh Bank will work with stakeholders to address barriers and challenges to women’s financial inclusion. Currently, Bangladesh Bank is working with stakeholders to explain the importance of gender data and generate buy-in to the dashboard process.

What gender data dashboards can do for governments and financial sector providers

Developing gender data dashboards can help governments collect and centralize important data, understand gaps in access to financial services, and work with financial service providers (FSPs) to develop products to close those gaps. Creating a dashboard may seem time consuming and complicated, but as speakers in the session shared, starting with a simple tool is a proven path forward. What is necessary is the support of regulators and buy-in from FSPs in the collection and use of the data. The importance of regulators as champions and their role in working with FSPs to increase women’s financial inclusion came up many times throughout the sessions.

As Dr. Oluikpe succinctly stated, we cannot manage what we cannot measure, and we cannot begin to address women’s financial inclusion globally until we understand the gap in access and the barriers and constraints women face. We are encouraged by these countries’ commitments to collecting and using quality gender data to drive women’s financial inclusion and look forward to seeing further development of their dashboards.

[1] The WFID Partnership, coordinated by Data2X with technical leadership from the Financial Alliance for Women, works to address gaps in the collection, quality, and use of gender data to increase women’s financial inclusion. Since 2020, the WFID Partnership has been working in six countries to strengthen data ecosystems to drive women’s financial inclusion. As part of that work, we have convened these countries in a Community of Gender Data Champions, in partnership with ConsumerCentriX (CCX), to share best practices.

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