Rwanda has made great progress over the past years in narrowing gender gap in economic activities in general and in financial inclusion in particular. These changes are supported by the deliberate efforts by the Government of Rwanda as guided by Vision 2020 and in line with the National Gender Policy. However, a gender gap remains where poor women in rural areas have yet to fully benefit from financial services.
Profile of women in Rwanda: Women in Rwanda are relatively young and reside mainly in rural areas, and are dependant on low and irregular sources of income such as farming.
Determinants of financial inclusion: Gender is considered one determinant of financial inclusion. Others include income, which is probably the strongest determinant especially for formal financial inclusion, with those relying on low and irregular sources of income such as piece work and agricultural activities being most vulnerable. As age often relates to economic activity, it is not surprising that women between the ages of 30 and 50 years are more likely to use/have financial services. The same applies to those residing in urban areas, and for women with higher levels of education (secondary and above).
Financial inclusion among women in Rwanda: As shown in this report, the overall gender gap is relatively small with 4% percentage difference in total financial inclusion [86% of women are financially included compared to 90% of men]. Within this context, men’s uptake of financial products/services is consistently ahead of that of women especially for formal financial services [overall, 63% of women are formally served compared to 74% of men]. The uptake of informal financial mechanisms show no gender gap. However, there is a significant gender gap in adults relying exclusively on the informal sector [24% for women compared to 17% men]. Looking at the uptake of specific financial products/services, the following gender differences emerge:
Banking: Women lag behind men in holding accounts at commercial banks. With only 24% of women banked compared to 29% by men.
Savings and investments: Savings rates show a 3 percentage point gender gap: 87% of men saved during the preceding 12 months of the survey, compared to 84% of women. Men and women seem to save for similar reasons, mainly to cover living expenses in terms of hardship. Importantly to note, however, is that women are more likely to save using informal savings groups, meaning that there might be more opportunity to shift savings to formal institutions.
Borrowing and credit: Women are less likely than men to borrow [69% of women compared to 71% of men]. The percentage of women taking a loan from a commercial bank is only 3% compared to 5% of men. Women primarily borrow from informal groups (60%) as well as friends and family (29%).
Insurance: The extent of purchases of insurance policies is limited for both men and women, with 8% of women holding an insurance policy (excluding Mutuelles de Sante) compared to 10% of men.
Remittances: Remittance rates show a 9% gender gap whereby 39% of women either sent/received money compared to 48% of men, using almost exclusively formal mechanisms, i.e. mobile money.
Mobile money: The uptake of mobile money has increased over the past years with 46% of men and 33% of women having/using a mobile money account, mainly to send/receive money but also to save, pay utility bills and purchase airtime. Women significantly lag behind men in mobile money usage with 13% gender gap.
Informal mechanism: Women lag behind men in holding formal financial accounts [74% compared to 63%], and as a result they are more likely to rely exclusively on informal mechanisms only with 7% gender gap [17% compared to 24%].
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