Financial Inclusion for Women Advocated at UN

ByMinlu Zhang March 14, 2024
Financial Inclusion for Women Advocated at UN
Huang Xiaowei, vice-chairperson of National Working Committee on Children and Women under China's State Council, speaks at a security council meeting on Wednesday under the theme of "promoting conflict prevention – empowering all actors including women and youth" at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday. [Minlu Zhang/China Daily]


A Chinese women's affairs official on Wednesday called for improved financial inclusion for women, aiming to lower the barriers that they face in accessing financial products and services.

"We have seen that, thanks to financial inclusion for women, many women in rural China have established their own businesses, achieved economic independence," said Huang Xiaowei, vice-chairperson of the National Working Committee on Children and Women under China's State Council.

"They have gained priority in loans for the first time, owned their personal seals and bank cards for the first time, and bought items like lipstick with their own money for the first time," she said, adding that the "small changes" in women's lives have led to "big changes" in gender equality.

Huang spoke at a meeting co-organized by China's Permanent Mission to the United Nations, the European Union's Delegation to the UN, and UN Women. The meeting, a side event of the 68th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), focused on the significance of financial inclusion for women and girls. It aimed to raise awareness and discuss strategies to enhance women's economic empowerment.

According to the UN Development Programme, 740 million women still lack access to financial services, due to factors including absence of formal ID, limited financial literacy, poorly designed services and other barriers. In some developing regions, up to 95 percent of women are in jobs that are not protected by law or benefit from social protection.

"Empowering women through financial inclusion plays such a crucial role in promoting gender equality," said Sarah Hendriks, director for Policy, Programme, Civil Society, and Intergovernmental Support at UN Women.

"It plays a role in advancing also human rights in strengthening vibrant civil societies, ensuring that women's economic empowerment is supported and realized, as well as in strengthening women's leadership," she added.

Huang said that China's financial-inclusion strategy secures policy safeguards for women's economic empowerment, delivers financial support for their empowerment initiatives, and actively advances gender equality and inclusive economic development.

"Financial inclusion is an effective way to serve the real economy and an important means to promote common prosperity," said Huang, adding that China made financial inclusion a national strategy 10 years ago.

In the past decade, Chinese financial institutions and women's organizations have issued 67.8 billion yuan in poverty alleviation micro-loans to 1.22 million impoverished women, and 571.4 billion yuan in small guaranteed entrepreneurial loans to 6.7 million women, according to Huang.

"Today, 1 in every 10 women globally still lives in extreme poverty, and by 2030, 342 million women will not have escaped extreme poverty. We urgently need to take action by enhancing financial services targeted at women and increasing investments in measures to promote gender equality," she said.

In the face of a turbulent international situation, Huang said it is necessary to "further support the empowerment of women and youth, helping them to better respond to a changing world and to utilize their wisdom and potential in the cause of peaceful development".

She told a UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday under the theme of "promoting conflict prevention — empowering all actors including women and youth" that supporting the economic empowerment and capacity-building of women and youth, and providing them with opportunities for education and employment, "can change their destinies and the face of their families and communities".

"This contributes to laying a solid foundation for maintaining stability, promoting development, and achieving lasting peace," Huang added. "We support the United Nations in further exploring and striving for the empowerment of women and youth."

The 68th session of the UN CSW, which started Monday and will run to March 22, is an annual meeting to address the inequalities, violence and discrimination against women.




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