“Closing the Gender Gap in Financial Inclusion: A Key Priority for the NBE” – The Governor

The National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) has inaugurated the Network of Ethiopia’s Women in Finance (NEWFin), a groundbreaking initiative aimed at narrowing the gender gap in leadership within the financial sector of Ethiopia and enhancing the financial inclusion of women.

During the “Making the Financial Sector Work for Women” conference held on March 28, 2024, at Sheraton Addis, it was revealed that NEWFin is poised to transform the Ethiopian financial landscape by empowering women to climb the leadership ladder, thereby promoting gender equality and stimulating economic growth.

In his opening address at the conference, the Governor of the NBE, H.E Mamo Esmelealem Mihretu, declared, “Closing the gender gap in financial inclusion is not just an item on our agenda; it is a key priority for the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE).”

The Governor elaborated, “The second National Financial Inclusion Strategy (2021 to 2025) is gender-focused. It not only incorporates actions aimed at achieving gender parity in financial services but also includes specific actions and initiatives to improve women’s access to financial resources.”

He emphasized the need to tackle the issue of women’s underrepresentation in the financial industry, both as users of financial services (demand-side) and as managers and employees within financial institutions (supply-side).

The Governor outlined the NBE’s goals, which include increasing the percentage of women in senior management positions (such as Vice Presidents and Directors) to at least 25%, and ensuring that by 2025, at least one woman holds a board seat in financial institutions.

The NBE is committed to cultivating an environment where women are not only participants but also key influencers in the future of Ethiopia’s financial sector, underscored the Governor.

The Governor highlighted that NEWFin represents more than an initiative; it is a pledge to revolutionize the financial sector, empower women, and enable them to excel as leaders, thus advancing gender equality.

The Governor invited leaders, partners, and stakeholders to join this crucial endeavor, as the triumph of NEWFin and the progress of women in finance depend on a collaborative effort.

Doina Petrescu, Acting Country Director for the World Bank Group, expressed the institution’s pride in supporting the evolving financial sector of Ethiopia.

The Director reflected on the World Bank’s technical assistance to the NBE in implementing the inaugural national financial inclusion strategy.

Melaika Bediri, CEO of Zamzam Bank and the newly elected Chairwoman of NEWFin, stated that currently, only 12% of leadership roles in Ethiopian financial institutions are held by women.

She conveyed that the network is committed to facilitating a work-life balance, challenging societal norms, and fostering mentorship and coaching, ensuring that women receive the necessary support and opportunities to excel.

Concluding the event, Solomon Desta, Vice Governor of the National Bank of Ethiopia, reiterated the NBE’s dedication to addressing these issues with utmost effort.

The Vice Governor emphasized that all financial institutions have an obligation to make their services beneficial to women and to structurally empower female employees to ascend to leadership roles.

NEWFin envisions a financial industry that empowers women, enabling them to thrive as leaders and actively promoting gender equality. Its mission is to dismantle the barriers that hinder women’s progress within the financial sector.

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