An engaging and wide-ranging look at new developments in banking access — Kirkus Reviews



A comprehensive look at how to bring more women into the global financial system.

In this debut nonfiction book, Iskenderian, the head of Women’s World Banking, a nonprofit focused on women’s access to the financial services around the world, offers insights into how the banking world can best adapt to the needs of women and what can be done to enable more women without bank accounts to access banks’ saving and borrowing functions. (The author points out that a third of all adults are “unbanked.”) The book explains why the ability to participate in the financial system matters, the specific barriers that keep women from establishing accounts and getting loans, and what interventions have made meaningful differences. It also addresses the profit-driven business case for greater inclusion in addition to the human rights rationale. Iskenderian looks at how developments in both mobile and in-person banking have offered new opportunities for inclusion, addresses the limitations of microfinancing, and shows that changes to banking access have wide-ranging impacts on families, communities, and regions. Policy wonks will appreciate the detailed and data-driven background; the author is both well informed and skilled at explaining such information in depth. Along the way, she offers policy recommendations supported by fully cited studies in a prose style that, while occasionally dry, is refreshingly free of jargon and minimizes complexity: “As long as women lack the ability to claim assets in their own names, they will be denied full financial inclusion.” The book’s holistic approach to financial inclusion—addressing insurance along with the ability to save and borrow and drawing connections between financial empowerment and gender-based violence—adds a valuable layer to the discussion and expands on the existing literature. The book concludes with concrete, plausible policy recommendations, suggestions for further research, and reminders about the importance of expanding access to banking. Readers with an interest in financial technology, women’s empowerment, and economic development are likely to find the book informative and enjoyable.

An engaging and wide-ranging look at new developments in banking access.