Gender and Household Welfare Through Financial Inclusion in Liberia

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Mulbah, Francis F.B.
Mantey, Vida
Olumeh, Dennis Etemesi
Okemer, Ipara Billy
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African Economic Research Consortium
Financial inclusion (FI) is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly no poverty, gender equality, and reduced inequalities (GSMA, 2021). However, there is limited evidence of its impacts on household welfare in fragile andpost-conflict countries (FPCCCs). FPCCCs suchas Liberia,have anunderdeveloped financial sector and limited financial inclusion resulting in very lowaccess to financial services in the country (Sile, 2013). Although there are efforts to improve financial inclusion in Liberia, there is evidence that suggests the persistent gender gap in terms of access to financial services. Forinstance, only 12% of Liberian women have a bank account, compared to 21% of men and only 24.4% of women use their mobile phones for financial transactions, compared to 30 percent of men (LISGIS, 2020) While determinants and impacts of FI in SSA have received significant attention in the literature, the role of financial inclusion on household welfare in FPCCs remains largely neglected. Also, information on how gender affects FI and its effectiveness on household welfare is scarce. In this study, we cross-examine the role of gender in improving household welfare in Liberia through financial inclusion. Access to formal financial services improves financial inclusion. Existing literature has shown that countries with strong financial systems have relatively good financial inclusion. However, this is different from FPCCs which have weak institutional frameworks and poor infrastructure. Therefore, this cannot be replicated in FPCCS like Liberia which has limited financial capabilities and financial literacy.