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Promoting gender-sensitive digital financial services, policies and regulations across ECOWAS

West Africa Monetary Agency (WAMA)

Africa has a gender-inclusion gap of 12% as compared to the global average of 4%, according to the 2021 Global Findex Report. This  gender gap is wider in West Africa, with a Gender Disparity Index of 0.825 compared to the African average of 0.871.

Gender inequality in West Africa is driven by a combination of factors such as unequal opportunities in education and economic development. Women form the bulk of the informal trade sector and it is estimated that 70% of the female population is in vulnerable employment with limited or no access to digital financial services.

This project aims to execute a gender gap analysis on digital financial services (DFS) policies and regulations to foster gender mainstreaming. As policy and regulatory reforms impact all citizens in a country, the project will potentially affect 350 million people in all 15 member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).


With the overall goal to achieve a harmonised gender-centric digital financial inclusion framework for use by the digital financial inclusion (DFI) ecosystem stakeholders across the ECOWAS countries, this initiative will focus on the Regional Payments Framework Gateway as a strategic entry for the conduct of the gender gap analysis. The framework has  five key components:

  • Strengthen financial inclusion strategy across ECOWAS by taking stock of any progress in women’s financial inclusion initiatives in the region, identifying gaps and opportunities and using insights for development of the regional financial inclusion strategy.
  • Inform data analytics framework and strategy design using gender gap analysis to determine gender identifiers for gender disaggregated data and explore use of data analytics for behavioural insights on how women access and use digital financial services.
  • Review and address policy barriers that hinder women from accessing DFS such as agency banking, micro loans, savings and insurance.
  • Review policies aimed at promoting digital identities (IDs) to help address challenges that prevent women from accessing ID, Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and investment opportunities.
  • Explore how digital payments are being addressed and the opportunity for enforcing gender identifiers to provide a consolidated view of how both men and women use financial services.
  • Adoption of the revised gender sensitive DFS policies and regulations and enhanced participation of women in issues that affect them across ECOWAS.
  • Gender issues are mainstreamed into national and regional digital financial regulations and policy frameworks.
  • The vulnerability of women to digital financial services risks is reduced to a minimum level.
  • Harmonised gender-centric framework for use by the digital financial inclusion ecosystem stakeholders for the ECOWAS countries.
  • Number of central banks that commit to the implementation plan and adopt the policy is increased.
  • Number of women that use digital platforms for intraregional remittances and trade payments is increased in ECOWAS.
  • Demand and access to DFS is increased, especially among the female population in the region.
  • Gender gap in accessing digital financial services is narrowed.

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Policy & regulatory reform
Regulatory harmonisation

ADFI Focus Areas

Policy and Regulation
Regulatory Harmonisation
Gender Inclusivity

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