CBE launches several initiatives for women’s financial inclusion, empowerment since 2016

Hossam Mounir
5 Min Read

Since 2016, the Central Bank of Egypt (CB) launched several initiatives and measures to support financial inclusion and the economic empowerment of women in all sectors with the aim of maximising their benefit from the services and products provided by the banking sector.

It also provided women with the necessary funding to help them implement their own projects as well as enable them to assume leadership positions in banks and increase their contribution to decision-making.

This comes within the framework of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s directives to support and empower women and raise the standard of living for all groups.

These initiatives and measures are also in line with the state’s efforts to promote the goals of Egypt’s 2030 Vision for Sustainable Development by achieving gender equality by benefiting from banking services without discrimination, increasing women’s contribution to the gross domestic product, achieving economic growth, and activating their significant role both within the family and in society as a whole.

In this context, the CBE obligated the banking system to support women and provide the necessary financing for them through the Microfinance Initiative, as 25% of the total loan portfolio for financing small, medium, and micro enterprises was allocated to female beneficiaries by the end of 2022.

One of the measures launched by the CBE to achieve financial inclusion and economic empowerment for women allows them to open bank accounts using only their national IDs to attract non-dealers with the banking system, craftswomen, owners of micro-enterprises, and entrepreneurs.

The CBE has also made it mandatory for every bank in the country to have at least two women on its board of directors.

According to the CBE, these measures resulted in a boom in the presence of women in the boards of directors of banks from 2016 until the end of 2021 — marking a growth rate of 67% — and increased the number of women performing transactions through the financial sector from 5.9 million to 16 million — a growth rate of 171%.

The number of bank cards issued to women also increased to 15 million, along with the number of mobile phone wallets owned by women, which jumped to 7.5 million.

The CBE is also working with a number of banks on the remittance programme for Egyptians working abroad, which targets about 1.5 million women by receiving bank transfers on their accounts or transfers from their relatives abroad.

Furthermore, the bank pointed out that it has also been giving special attention to women in the countryside, as it launched several programmes targeting women in Upper Egypt with the aim of improving their standard of living, empowering them economically, integrating them into the official banking system of the state, raising awareness, spreading a financial culture among them, eradicating female digital illiteracy, and encouraging them to adopt special projects, including the digital savings and lending groups programme in cooperation with the National Council for Women, which targets 500,000 women in 13 governorates as a first stage.

Moreover, the CBE — in cooperation with the World Food Programme and Egyptian banks — also participated in a project to support and empower farmers and their families in the countryside, which has so far included about 50,000 women during the past six months, in addition to participating in the national Decent Life Presidential Initiative in cooperation with the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development.

The programmes in rural areas include a financial education programme for women with the participation of many authorities in the country, including the National Council for Women and the Ministry of Social Solidarity, along with banks, the Microfinance Union, and other concerned parties in the country. The programme has so far included 300,000 women.

Additionally, the CBE is currently working on a programme to digitise micro-lending for more than 2m women within a year and is also working on a programme to train cadres of the Microfinance Union and NGOs to financially educate women.

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