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Impact Of Financial Inclusion On Young Women’s Well-Being



Financial Inclusion
Adult class in session: Education key to financial inclusion

By Antonique Koning & Rani Deshpande, Senior Financial Sector Specialists

One issue of concern to young women in low-income countries is financial inclusion. It is germane because a sizeable number of them face it as a major barrier in day to day attempt navigating life.

Young women’s access to financial services diverges markedly from young men’s around the age of majority, and this gender gap persists across age.


Financial inclusion initiatives can improve young women’s financial skills and savings levels. Combined with other types of interventions, financial inclusion may also improve psychosocial, health, and livelihood outcomes.

Funders, financial service providers, and policy makers must work together to better support young women at this critical stage of life.

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Of the nearly 600 million young women ages 15-24 in the world today, approximately 520 million live in developing economies, with even higher emphasis for women  financial inclusion.

Young women in this age bracket often transition dramatically in a short time span—from legal minor to major, student to worker, single to partnered, child to caregiver.

The timing, sequencing, and nature of each transition can have lifelong impacts for these young women and for future generations.


The difficulty of these transitions is compounded by the fact that young women are among the most socially and economically excluded of all demographic segments due to both normative and structural barriers related to their gender and age.

Across the world, the proportion of young women not in employment, education, or training is twice that of young men. In Sub-Saharan Africa, young women are eight times more likely to be married before the age of 18. And globally, the prevalence of HIV among young women is double that of their male counterparts.

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In developing economies, young women’s levels of financial inclusion reflect this broader exclusion: after rising steeply at fairly equal rates during the late teen years, young women’s and young men’s rates of access to formal financial services diverge markedly around the age of majority, producing a gender gap that persists across age.

Yet almost two decades of research indicate that financial services can help young women develop the financial assets that are a key support in overcoming these conditions. Financial inclusion may also facilitate the development of other assets and capabilities—such as human capital, voice and agency, and bodily integrity—which young women need to become healthy, productive, and empowered adults. However, the weight of this evidence has been difficult to assess.

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Although there have been several excellent reviews of economic empowerment programming for young women, evidence to date specifically on the impact of financial inclusion interventions has not been synthesized and made easily accessible.

Adapted from the article: The Impact of Financial Inclusion on Young Women’s Well-being: A Survey of Evidence and Recommendations for Practitioners, published on CGAP, November 2023

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