Findex Data Highlights Turkey's Gender Gap in Financial Services
One trend illuminated by the 2017 Global Findex data, and perhaps the trend that has, rightfully so, brought about the most consternation, is the persistent gender gap. Three years on from the previous Global , women still lagged behind men in account ownership by seven percentage points globally, and nine percentage points in developing markets. While this gap is significant and significantly distressing, aggregate numbers often hide many of the realities on the ground, which is why Lab uses granular data to uncover local insights for national solutions. In the case of Turkey, more must be done to reverse a growing gender gap.
From 2014 to 2017, the gender gap in account ownership in Turkey expanded from 24.7 percentage points to 28.7 percentage points. This increase is significant because the country had made impressive progress before 2014, reining in a gender gap of 49.4 percentage points recorded in the 2011 Global . And, while 4 percentage points may seem relatively insignificant, Turkey has one of the largest gender gaps compared to its peers. As was noted in the World Banks’ All About Finance blog, Turkey’s gender gap is “roughly three times as large as the average gender gap in [major] emerging economies.”
However, there are opportunities to reduce the gap for women in Turkey and ensure they have access to the financial tools to improve their lives. One encouraging observation from our recently updated Interactive Dashboard for Turkey – made possible by generous support from the MetLife Foundation – is the literacy rate for women increased by 5.2 percent from 2015 to 2016. Additionally, the introduction and growth of digital financial services could significantly reduce the gender gap, as 88 percent of unbanked women have a mobile phone. While the mobile money account penetration rate was 16.4 percent in 2017, according to Global , the gender gap for these accounts was only 4 percentage points, providing a significant tool for financial inclusion boosters in Turkey. Additionally, more women are adopting digital technologies to access and use financial products. In 2017, more than half of women had made or received digital payments in the previous twelve months and nearly a quarter had accessed an account using the Internet.
There are more general trends in financial access that may contribute to obstacles to reducing the gender gap in Turkey. According to data collected by MIX, the number of financial access points in the country declined from 2015 to 2016, ending a growth trend that went back nearly a decade. For example, the number of Bank, MFI and Post Office branches declined by 3.8 percent from 2015. While the number of ATMs remained stable, there were provinces that relied completely on these automated teller machines, without the benefit of additional services provided in branch locations. Since the largest five banks account for 56 percent of all branches in the country, given the right incentives these institutions could reach into areas that are underserved and include a focus on regions with high rates of unbanked women.
At the national level, Turkey still has work to do to increase financial inclusion across all population segments. In 2016, there were 1.5 financial access points per 10,000 people, with many of the access points concentrated in heavily-populated, urban areas. Though account penetration has reached 68.6 percent of the adult population, the limited number of access points indicates there are opportunities to not only increase account ownership but to offer a wider variety of financial products and services that can contribute to improved livelihoods and ability to manage shocks. With the growing adoption of mobile phones and increasing familiarity with digital financial services, now is a good time for stakeholders to support initiatives that can achieve specific and measurable targets – including the elimination of the gender gap.
Explore the Interactive Dashboard for Turkey yourself.