Nigerian women are more likely than Nigerian men to be financially excluded, meaning that they do not have access to bank accounts or other financial services. New research on women’s financial inclusion jointly conducted by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Financial Inclusion Secretariat and EFInA found that levels of income, education, and trust in financial service providers are strongly associated with financial inclusion in Nigeria, for both men and women. Because women in Nigeria tend to have lower levels of income, education, and trust in financial service providers, this contributes strongly to the financial inclusion gender gap. In addition, Nigerian women are less likely than Nigerian men to use formal (regulated) financial services such as bank accounts, even when factors such as income, education, and trust in financial service providers are held equal.
The Assessment of Women’s Financial Inclusion in Nigeria found that, when comparing financially excluded women with women that use financial services, some other trends emerge. The geographic region a woman lives in is a significant factor influencing her likelihood of using financial services – with women in the South more likely to be included than those in the North – but a woman’s religion does not influence her likelihood of using financial services. Women who own mobile phones are more likely to be financially included than those who do not. Women who are married are more likely to be financially included than those who are single (never married). And women in the youngest and oldest age groups are more likely to be financially included than younger or older women.
The research also found that Nigerians living in rural areas are significantly less likely than those in urban areas to use formal financial services, even when all other factors are held equal.
Deeper engagement with financially excluded women highlights several gendered factors that can limit their access to banks and other formal financial services. Women are more likely than men to have restricted mobility – a woman may spend most of her time within the home and local community. With more caring responsibilities than men, women are often time poor. And while women may make day-to-day financial decisions on behalf of the household, men are more likely to be perceived as being responsible for major household decisions.