UBA Kenya Bank has joined the rest of the world in celebrating International Women’s Day within and without Kenya and calling for equity both at workplaces and within society to make the world safer and habitable for all.
UBA’s rally call to embrace equity falls within International Women’s Day which is calling on the whole world to speak in one voice and embrace equity at all stages of life.
The rallying calls on the International Women’s Day website read “Imagine a gender-equal world. A world that is free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all.”
According to UBA Kenya, gender dynamics can and do change over time. The financial services industry can be an impetus and gauge for gender equity. Financial inclusion alone may not lead to gender equity. But only with equal access to a range of need-based financial services; savings, loans, insurance, payments, and appropriate financial education, women have the opportunity to be socially and economically empowered.
“As a bank, we promote women’s equality and inclusion in the banking space, which has been seen by the appointment of more women to leadership positions, as well as designing products for women-focused businesses and offering preferential rates to support women financing options. The bank also works with several development organizations to finance women-led businesses in a bid to increase women’s access to financial services,” said the bank in a statement.
As the world comes together to celebrate, UBA Kenya Bank says that women hold an important position in society and are the greatest contributor to the growth of the economy and that embracing Equity is not a favor but something that everyone deserves. Sentiments shared by Evah Gathu, Chief Operations Officer at UBA Kenya who says “Equity does not imply that everyone is treated equally. It simply means everyone must receive what they require.”
The sentiments on women being a key pillar in any country’s economy are also in line with the data from UN Women that showed that 100 million migrant women send remittances annually back to their home countries, including Kenya, accounting for half of all remittance senders globally. At the same time, according to the Fin Access Household Survey 2021, the results show a narrower gender gap in access to financial services, which decreased from 8.5 percent in 2016 to 4.2 percent in 2021, giving women more meaningful access to participate in formal economic activities.
UBA Kenya is among the few lenders in the country that have put in place initiatives and policies that are tailored towards preaching equity at the workplace, ensuring that women have access to affordable credit to start their businesses and investments, as well as giving out seed capital to young entrepreneurs.
Towards the end of February 2023, together with the Tony Elumelu Foundation, UBA Kenya partnered with the State Department on Devolution to roll out a program that will see entrepreneurs across the counties, including women, receive seed capital of up to 5,000 dollars to kickstart their business ideas.
The lender has also put in place policies that ensure that female employees within the organization proceed to maternity leave for at least 12 weeks on a full salary and allowances and are only allowed to resume work when they are strong and in good health.
“As we celebrate International Women’s Day, as a bank, we have always ensured that biases and stereotypes that fuel discrimination don’t have a place in our organization. We strongly believe that a diverse, equitable, and inclusive world is a progressive world,” said Zawadi Wesonga, UBA Kenya’s Country Head of Resources.
According to Ivy Kariuki, the Projects Manager at UBA Kenya Bank, “embracing equity means more than simply providing opportunities to individuals, particularly women. It involves recognizing and rewarding the true value that women bring to organizations and society through their unique skills, capabilities, and circumstances.”
The bank says more women are involved in decision-making in Kenya and Globally in the Financial space, but more needs to be done, including investing in gender-disaggregated data collection to better understand where the framework needs to change. Increasing Financial Inclusion is needed to equip women with the tools to accumulate assets, generate income, manage financial risks, and participate fully in the economy.
Greater inclusion of women as consumers, providers, and regulators of financial services will have benefits beyond addressing gender inequality. Closing the gender gap will provide greater stability in the banking system and increase economic growth. It can also contribute to more effective monetary and fiscal policies.