World Bank: Zim among Africa’s top 5 economies with reforms on women economic empowerment

  • World Bank lists 40 economies with reforms on women empowerment
  • Zimbabwe misses mention among top performers globally
  • Zimbabwe in top 5 African list of women economic empowerment
  • Mobile money; pivotal to the matrix

Zimbabwe’s regulatory environment for women’s economic inclusion has improved over the past two years, but Zimbabwe is missing mention among 40 countries globally that enacted 62 reforms that will help women.

However, Zimbabwe occupies the third spot in Africa’s top five performers with a score of 86.9 points out of 100 in as far as female participation in economic issues, as well as legal rights protection, is concerned.

The study, “Women Business and the Law (WBL) 2020”, measures 190 economies, tracking how laws affect women at different stages in their working lives and focusing on those laws applicable in the main business city.

It covers reforms in eight areas that are associated with women’s economic empowerment, conducted from June 2017 to September 2019, precisely on mobility, workplace, salary, marriage, parenthood, entrepreneurship, assets and pension.

The best performer from Africa is Mauritius with a score of 91.9/100 followed by South Africa scoring 88.1/100. Lagging behind Zimbabwe in Africa’s top five are Cape Verde and Namibia (tie) as well as Tanzania with scores of 86.3 and 84.4 respectively.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, 11 economies implemented 16 reforms in seven areas, but the Democratic Republic of Congo introduced social insurance maternity benefits and equalized retirement ages, while in Côte d’Ivoire, spouses now have equal rights to own and manage property.

The most recent stats published on the official RBZ site makes reference to a FinScope Survey data of 2011 and 2014 which revealed, that the level of access to formal ­financial services for women adults increased from 35% in 2011 to 68% in 2014, due to increased access to non-bank ­financial services, mainly mobile ­financial services. ‘

Major drivers to uptake of mobile money were to receive money (72%), to send money (57%) and to withdraw money (32%). 2.4. The deep-dive analysis also revealed that 72% of women adults in Zimbabwe did not use insurance products at all, whether formal or informal.

In Zimbabwe, while the financial inclusion level is on the upswing, it is mostly men that are captured into the system, while women, across regions of the country, are setback by religious, cultural and educational factors, limiting their potential.

Late last year, then the incumbent Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister Dr Sithembiso Nyoni said the Government was satisfied with the impact ZWMB has made towards increasing financial inclusion of women.

“I’m very satisfied with the impact of the Women’s Bank in enabling the financial inclusion of women. Due to its existence, women’s profiles in the banking sector has risen from 37 percent to 70 percent. Over the years most women were not banking but after the opening of the Women’s Bank the trends have significantly changed, heralding the bank’s importance and the impact it has had,” she said.

In December 2016 there were 1.46 million bank accounts and 770 000 of these were held by women. This translates to 52% of all accounts that were held by banks then. This is not too far from the structure of our population. Fast forward to December 2018 and only 26% of all the accounts held by banks are opened by women. We await the 2019 figures

In the micro-finance sector, As at 31 December 2018, active women clients constituted 40.78% of the total number of active clients compared to 32.50% as at 31 December 2012. Total loans to women clients ($112.28m) constituted 29.01% of the total loans ($386.99m).

Key to the assessment of this matrix is the contribution of mobile money to Zimbabwe’s financial inclusion which houses about nine million people and accounting for 80% of Zimbabwe’s adult population. It remains to be examined to what extent mobile money has bridged the financial inclusion gap for women in Zimbabwe.


Eben Mabunda

An Investment Analyst and Business Anchor for Equity Axis. Eben is passionate about the innovative digital space on the continent,  tourism trends, and real estate developments in Zimbabwe. He also has a comprehensive understanding of the operations of listed companies on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange- across all sectors. Eben is an award winner of "The Vice-chancellor's Inno-preneur Award," an accolade in innovation and business entrepreneurship from the Vice-chancellor of the University of Johannesburg.

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