Overcoming gender barriers to insurance

The ILO estimates that globally, four out of every ten women in employment have no access to social protection. In developing countries, up to 95 percent of women work in informal jobs with no protection from labour laws. Nearly a billion women around the world have no bank account.

Gender barriers can be considerable in some emerging economies. Women may not be able to legally access insurance, or may be ineligible for insurance schemes. Women often do most of the work but can be excluded from financial decisions both at home and in business. In many developing countries, credit is often the main access to insurance, yet because women are less able to access credit, they are also less likely to have insurance.

The recent UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) highlighted the role of inclusive insurance in helping women overcome some of these barriers, through the theme of “social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.” Swedish non-profit organisation We Effect partnered with the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF) at a side event focusing on how microinsurance can advance gender equality through the 5-5-5 Mutual Microinsurance Strategy. ICIMF555 has already helped women from India and The Philippines to get affordable health and life cover.

As MiN member Women’s World Banking (WWB) noted in a joint report with GIZ and the IFC, there is a clear business and social case for mainstreaming gender and targeting women in inclusive insurance. Women’s and men’s insurance needs are different and tailored inclusive insurance for women can meet their gender-specific needs whilst still being commercially viable. Despite this, women-centric insurance - designed by women for women - remains the exception.

Meanwhile, the MiN stood with the other organisations at the Maison de la Microfinance in Luxembourg and joined other leaders from the public, private, NGO, legal and academic sectors for the first Stand Speak Rise Up! international conference to show solidarity with survivors of sexual violence in fragile environments. The conference, in partnership with the Dr. Denis Mukwege Foundation and We Are Not Weapons of War, focused on empowering women through the financial and digital sectors and the long-term socio-economic impacts of sexual violence on individuals, families and future generations.

Many insurance companies are investors in fragile environments, whether those are countries with ongoing violence, those recovering from conflict or those at risk of instability. The MiN urges the insurance industry - which together manages around a third of the world’s investment capital - to ensure that investments protect and uphold the right of women to be free of sexual violence and to minimise the risks they face.