Financial inclusion crucial to women empowerment—Poe

Financial inclusion crucial to women empowerment—Poe

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — Sen. Grace Poe recognized the need for the government and institutions to create an environment that will empower women entrepreneurs to surpass pre-existing limitations and thrive in the new normal.

“I believe the government should invest in women entrepreneurs as they will be extremely vital in the post-COVID recovery of our communities. This is why we need to create an enabling environment to remove obstacles that prevent women from living full, productive, and satisfying lives,” Poe said.

In her keynote speech delivered via Zoom at the Go Negosyo Women Entrepreneurship Summit 2022, Poe cited the current challenges facing women entrepreneurs such as financial inclusion that matters much in their growth.

The International Finance Corp. earlier reported that 61 percent of women in the Philippines still do not own a bank account and are not part of the formal economy. As a result, they are unable to avail of loans and grants extended by the government to registered businesses.

“Nais natin na lahat ng Pilipino ay magkaroon ng access sa banking at financial services para walang maiwan,” the chairperson of the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies said.

Awaiting the President’s signature is the Financial Products and Services Consumer Protection Act sponsored and defended by Poe at the Senate.

The measure seeks to strengthen the rights of Filipino consumers to equitable and fair treatment and disclosure and transparency of financial products and services and protect consumers and businesses from blindly undertaking loans with hidden charges or usurious rates.

“We must ensure the protection of the interest of consumers who avail of financial products and services, especially at this time when many have fallen into debt traps and now endure stressful lives in an effort to repay loan obligations,” Poe said.

Poe stressed that a number of studies have revealed that women entrepreneurs faced certain constraints more acutely than men. These included lack of business education and training opportunities, support from families, access to capital and credit, and time constraints imposed by domestic obligations.

“Let’s take every opportunity to recognize, honor and affirm women by showing appreciation for them at home, in offices and factories,” Poe said, as the country marks March as international women’s month. (ai/mtvn)

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