7.2% of BD women operate MFS accounts; IDEA tells seminar
According to World Bank and GSMA 2022 data, 7.2% of women in the country are using their own accounts in Mobile Financial Services (MFS) with 20% receiving services directly and indirectly from SFS.
At the same time, according to BIDS and ADB 2021 data, women are not connected to 57.8% SFS services. Such information emerged on Sunday, June 4, 2023, at the Innovation and Development Associates (IDEA) Foundation's seminar titled Gender Dimension of Digital Financial Services (DFS) in Bangladesh, held in Bangabandhu Military Museum's Seminar Hall.
Kazi M. Aminul Islam, former alternate executive director of World Bank, former secretary and former chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) and chairman of IDEA Foundation presided over the seminar, attended by Md. Hasanuzzaman Kallol, Secretary of the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs and Ms. Snigdha Ali, Interim Senior Program Officer and Gender Advisor, Bangladesh and Women's Economic Empowerment Financial Services for the Poor, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as the chief guest and special guests respectively.
The seminar further highlighted the proposal to fix and ensure a quota for women as agents of MFS in the country under the purview of Bangladesh Bank.
Moreover, there were also reports of incidents of audit objections, where the grant was being received by a woman even though the MFS account was in the name of a man. The speakers requested the government to take such issues into consideration and create policies to monitor, govern and resolve such issues.
The welcome speech was delivered by the secretary of IDEA Foundation and former senior secretary Mohammad Shahidul Haque; an open discussion session was moderated by, Md. Abul Kalam Azad, Vice Chairman of IDEA Foundation and former Principal Secretary and Chief Coordinator (SDG).
The speakers were Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Business Initiative Leading Development-Build, Ferdous Ara Begum and Dr. Sayema Haque Bidisha, Professor, Department of Economics, University of Dhaka. The summary was presented by IDEA Foundation's senior Sociologist, Khondoker Shakhawat Ali.
The main article was presented by the senior researcher of IDEA Foundation, Dr. Monzur Hossain where he stated that DFS was started in early 2010 and has created a revolution in financial inclusion. Women's access to MFS plays a catalytic role in reducing the gap between men and women in financial access.
Socially, men in a family may have MFS accounts but the women do not. MFS is used to pay wages to workers in garment manufacturing (RMG) and other industries. DFS is gaining popularity despite many challenges. He also presented various statistics to support his statements.
Speaking at the occasion, Md. Hasanuzzaman Kallol said:, "The Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs has undertaken various projects in connection with the digital banking system and mobile banking system to build equality between men and women.."
Ms. Snigdha Ali said, "There are 9.5 million domestic workers in the country who also need to be brought into the mainstream audience through financial inclusion."