Queen Máxima has given a speech about financial equality between men and women to mark International Women’s Day.
The online event, A Call to Action for Reaching Financial Equality, was hosted by the Better Than Cash Alliance, UNCDF, World Bank Group and Women’s World Banking, the Dutch Royal House outlined.
Queen Máxima gave her speech in her capacity as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development.
The Queen said: “International Women’s Day is a day for us to not only reflect upon our common progress, but outline what needs to be accomplished next.
“Frankly, the outlook is sobering. According to UN Women, 47 million more women and girls worldwide have fallen into poverty since the start of the pandemic. That pushes the overall total to 435 million women and girls living on less than $1.90 per day.
“Mothers and daughters everywhere continue to shoulder the extra costs of the crisis.
Of the role the coronavirus pandemic has played on financial inequality, Queen Máxima said, “Women usually have to assume additional caregiving responsibilities, while struggling to maintain their livelihoods—often in the informal sector. Female-owned businesses tend to be smaller with less access to financial resources. And data from Africa, South Asia, and Latin America show that women have lost their sources of income more rapidly than men because of the economic disruption caused by COVID-19.”
But she was quick to note that governments are taking action to help their citizens using digital means, which has “afforded new opportunities to accelerate financial inclusion.”
She added that, “Using these financial services helps women build assets, manage economic emergencies, and weather health shocks. It is important that appropriate and affordable products are designed considering the financial needs of women. Beyond short-term access, usage of financial products is a priority, particularly savings and insurance to build up buffers.
“Reaching full financial inclusion for women, however, cannot take place without investing in digital public goods. It is impossible to send cash safely and swiftly to a woman who has no formal identification, does not appear in public databases, or has no access to a mobile phone with a secure internet connection. It is therefore now more important than ever to accelerate investments in this infrastructure to help women enter and participate in the formal digital economy in a very safe manner.”
Queen Máxima’s speech ended with a note of optimism from the pandemic, saying that digital technology has improved and helped accelerate financial inclusion so that “Milestones that appeared years away were reached in months.
“So, looking ahead, we know what needs to be done in terms of policy and investments to close the gender gap. There is a chance to reach financial equality and set a shining example for other economic sectors. I really look forward to supporting all of you on this journey toward a more inclusive world for the women of today and tomorrow.”