It’s 8 March 2017, International Women’s Day. As my colleague David beautifully said: “It’s a day to remember that women are not treated equally to men across the world. It’s a reminder that women worldwide are exposed to shocking abuse from sexual violence and female genital mutilation, to forced early marriage and deprivation of their most basic rights.
Globally, there are 600 million adolescent girls in developing countries who face challenges to education and health services and too often face persistent discrimination and violence. They frequently have limited opportunities to gain the education, knowledge, resources, and skills that can lead to economic advancement.
Social isolation, economic vulnerability, and lack of access to health care and education prevent healthy transitions from childhood to adulthood, especially for vulnerable adolescent girls in developing countries. In Zambia, poor girls often are at high risk of gender-based violence, unintended pregnancy, and HIV. Many drop out of school, are unable to find employment, lack the ability to make independent decisions, and are not being reached by existing programs for young people.
This paper is part of the Child and Youth Finance International Landscape Series. Each paper in the Landscape Series looks back on the developments of recent years and looks forward to the future. This paper focuses on financial inclusion for children and youth.
Rural youth tend to be the least financially included: youth financial inexperience and limited assets exacerbate the basic rural finance challenges of low population density and poor infrastructure. Nonetheless, they demand financial services to manage their resources, build assets, and invest in livelihoods or education. How should the financial sector react to this situation – try to serve rural youth directly with new products and services, focus on the “near adults” in a rural finance strategy and deepen services over time, or ignore this population until the challenges of rural finance can be overcome? 136 financial inclusion practitioners came together on January 11th to discuss these issues and determine whether rural youth financial inclusion was possible, or simply a bridge too far.
Making Cents and RTI International are pleased to announce an in-person and webinar event on January 11, 2017 that will bring together financial inclusion and youth experts to discuss the key issues related to scaling rural and youth-inclusive financial services. The panel will highlight digital and practical innovations that have the potential to financially include rural populations and especially youth, but also the challenges of applying them to this hard-to-reach group. Panelists will draw from discussions at the recent USAID-sponsored Financial Inclusion Forum, results from a 6-part rural youth learning series developed by Making Cents and IFAD, promising practices from USAID’s K-YES project in Kenya, and other initiatives focusing on rural youth financial service provision.
The challenge of youth unemployment continues to garner headlines. Recently, the New York Times described the demographic challenge as, “The World Has a Problem: Too Many Young People.” These headlines have galvanized interest in youth and led governments and donors to re-focus their efforts on employing this growing population. Youth-inclusive financial efforts have expanded as well, aimed at providing youth with the credit and savings services necessary to facilitate their “earning and learning.”
The SDGs build on the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and aim to go further to end all forms of poverty. The new Goals are unique in that they call for action by all countries - regardless of income - to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. They recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and addresses a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection.
Financial inclusion seeks to increase the number of individuals who are able to access formal financial services, with a focus on providing access to marginalized populations such as youth or women. According to the World Bank, almost 40 percent of the adults in the world do not use formal financial services, such as licensed commercial and development banks, savings and loan companies, and deposit-taking entities. The majority of the individuals who do not access these services come from poor households.
The Annual Conference on Financial Education promotes the effective delivery of consumer financial products, services and education by hosting a national event for professionals providing these services. The Conference is a showcase for financial education success stories, offering attendees proven strategies, tips and techniques to achieve intended outcomes, funding goals and program sustainability. Each year the conference is attended by 200 professionals representing credit unions, banks, K-12 education, higher education, social services, debt management, government, military and other industries.