Closing the gender gap: New report highlights strategies to boost housing finance for women in emerging markets

By International Finance Corporation

Closing the gender gap: New report highlights strategies to boost housing finance for women in emerging markets

A new report from IFC explores how differentiated approaches and tailored financial products and services can expand access to housing finance for women in developing countries. The report, Her Home II: Housing Finance for Women in Ghana, Senegal, and Indonesia provides country-specific insights into the barriers women face in obtaining housing finance and what steps can be taken to overcome them.

The report builds on the insights from the first Her Home study published in 2020, which found that increasing access to housing finance would not only benefit economic growth and women’s financial resilience but is also a largely untapped market for financial institutions in developing countries.

“There is substantial opportunity to extend and deepen the housing finance market for women in these emerging markets,” said Tomasz Telma, Global Director for IFC’s Financial Institutions Group. “Initiatives that encourage housing finance for women benefit not only women but also families and communities, as well as financial institutions.”

Women face similar obstacles to accessing housing finance across all three countries, despite economic, cultural, and demographic differences.

Many of the key recommendations are widely applicable:

  • Because the majority of women in all three countries are employed in the informal economy, they lack any formal credit history and struggle to obtain loans through traditional financial institutions. Designing alternate approaches that look at financial transactions in the informal economy, particularly using mobile money, could support new credit scoring models that benefit women. Similarly, products that focus on savings rather than debt could open new opportunities for women.
  • Collecting, analyzing, and disseminating gender-disaggregated data would help financial institutions provide differentiated products and services that specifically address the challenges women face in accessing housing finance.
  • Although land rights vary from country to country, women in all three countries are significantly less likely than men to own a home or to have legal recognition of co-ownership. Encouraging joint applications or lowering interest rates for women could incentivize higher rates of property registration in women’s names.
  • Development finance institutions, impact investors, and government programs can incentivize expanded lending to women customers by providing increased access to capital for financial institutions that tailor products for women.