FSDZ aims to support efforts to increase financial inclusion for girls, women and their households resulting in reduced vulnerability and greater income opportunities.
Women often struggle to send their children to school, put food on the table and to buy the inputs they need for productive outcomes in income generating activities. In addition to overall income disparity, there is also a gendered difference in sources of income between men and women; that is, women are poorer than men; after agriculture, men are more likely to earn salaries/wages, and women are more likely to operate micro-businesses or depend on others.
The majority of women in Zambia are rural smallholder farmers who must manage agricultural and household expenses (and often times other income generating activities and related expenditures). Investment in farming activities supports women in meeting the daily needs of their households. However, managing household expenditures can also be a challenge, particularly during non-productive seasons.
Women in Zambia are at a disadvantage in accessing financial services when compared to male counterparts. While FinScope 2015 found that almost 60 percent of Zambian women and men experience some level of financial inclusion (compared to 37.3 percent of adults being financially included in 2009), men have an advantage over women overall (61.2 percent of men were included versus 57.6 percent of women) and women are more excluded then men in every category: of the 42.6 percent of women who are financially excluded, 62.2 percent are in rural areas and 75.7 percent are to be in the lowest two poverty quintiles. This means that poor rural women are the most excluded group in Zambia.
In addition, women are more likely than men to be financially excluded across both formal and informal services. Women who are financially included, are significantly less likely than men to take up formal financial services and more likely to rely on informal services. In fact, according to FinScope 2015, only 38.2 percent of women and men use formal financial services, with men (43.2%) experiencing much greater formal inclusion than women (33.3%).
However, Zambian women are eager to benefit from financial services to improve the livelihoods of their households. In order to redress the gender imbalance and to contribute to women’s economic empowerment, FSDZ specifically supports initiatives that target women and girls by strengthening and supporting sustainable advances in knowledge, financial services and support services offered by an array of capable service providers.
We aim to increase financial inclusion for women and girls by: supporting practical research to increase deep understanding of girls and women’s financial behavior and financial service needs; building capacity and supporting outreach of financial service providers and other stakeholders to adolescent girls, rural women (especially smallholder farmers), and women owned/operated small enterprises; and developing viable support services including financial education for girls and women to increase their financial capabilities and business/networking skills.