Giving Compass' Take:

• As governments respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic challenges that come with it, there is a strong case to increase digital safety nets for women during this time. 

• How can promoting digital and financial skills for women help drive long-term economic recovery?  How can donors aid this policy initiative?

•  Read more about making women the focal point of COVID recovery. 

The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to wipe out hard-won gains in global development and gender equality. The World Bank reports that the world faces its first increase in extreme poverty since 1998, with between 71 million and 100 million people set to fall into destitution depending on the pandemic’s course, and the crisis affecting women more negatively than men.

Governments are scrambling to contain the economic damage. As of June 12, World Bank data indicates that 195 countries have planned, introduced or adapted more than a thousand safety net payments and other social protection measures for the most vulnerable populations.

There’s a strong case to be made that these payments should be offered digitally. Compared to cash, digital safety net transfers can cut costs and avoid leakage. And digital transfers can help beneficiaries—especially women—strengthen their household decisionmaking power and bolster their labor force participation.

But rapid digitization could create challenges for traditionally marginalized groups like women unless products are well-designed and a robust digital infrastructure is in place. A new report, “Advancing Women’s Digital Financial Inclusion,” prepared for the G-20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion by the World Bank, the Better Than Cash Alliance, and Women’s World Banking, examines how government payments can be structured in a way that serves women. The full report highlights 10 policy options to advance women’s digital financial inclusion—including ways governments can make transfer payments safer for women.

Read the full article about digital safety nets for women by Leora Klapper at Brookings.