Despite the large number of financial transactions that take place on a daily basis, nearly a billion women around the world are still excluded from the financial system—and opportunities to gain financial independence. Ensuring equality of access to financial services would offer life-changing prospects for women.

In There’s Nothing Micro about a Billion Women: Making Finance Work for Women, Mary Ellen Iskenderian examines how financial inclusion could be instrumental to women’s financial independence and empowerment. The author uses her professional experience in the banking sector as well as academic research, case studies, and stories to illustrate the benefits of women’s financial inclusion and steps stakeholders need to take to eliminate gender-based barriers. Iskenderian points out that the advantages of closing the gender gap in financial services go beyond the life of the individual woman: It improves the lives of her family members and strengthens the community and the national economy. The author makes the case for women’s inclusion as a business strategy for financial service providers to add an underserved market to their portfolio.

Iskenderian notes that her experience working in the banking sector taught her how access to financial services could make a difference in the lives of low-income women. She tells the story of a woman entrepreneur who overcame numerous obstacles to secure loans to start and expand her business and became a successful business owner with many employees. Her success and financial stability allowed her to provide for her family, invest in her children’s education as a means to secure their future, and play a prominent role in her community. As Iskenderian writes, “improving a woman’s financial access brings with it an intergenerational multiplier effect that leads to consistently better outcomes in the health, education, and lifelong earning potential of every member of her entire family, including both boys and girls.”

Read the full article about women in finance by Mary Ellen Iskenderian at Philanthropy News Digest.