Helen Clark says financial literacy key for women in Papua New Guinea

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Helen Clark visiting the ICT training lab for public financial management

East New Britain, PAPAUA NEW GUINEA

As part of a recent three-day tour of Papua New Guinea (PNG), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Miss Helen Clark commended steps made to improve financial literacy for women across PNG.

“Financial education is an important life skill for people across all socio economic levels, but is more essential for women living in rural communities,” said Miss Clark. While meeting women who received financial literacy training from UNDP/UNCDF partner Nationwide Microbank at the Vunamami United Church in East New Britain. Miss Clark noted that incentivized financial discipline can do much to set people on the path to financial prosperity.

“When women are taught money management skills, they become confident managers of money and financial risks,” said Miss Clark. “This includes a better understanding of the long term benefits of savings and planning for emergencies.”

Miss Clark is on a three-day tour in PNG, for bilateral meetings with the government and other stakeholders. In East New Britain, she also visited the ICT training lab for public financial management and the protected areas public consultation meeting.

Nationwide Microbank launched the first deployment of a mobile wallet in PNG in 2011 with technical and financial assistance from UNDP/UNCDF Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP). Approximately 80% of MiCash customers are previously unbanked, with 65% living in rural areas and 38% women. Financial literacy underpins MiCash’s success as customers learn to manage their money and plan for emergencies.

Women Banking Manager at Nationwide Microbank, Gima Kepi, said opening mobile wallet accounts mark a vital step in making women of PNG become financially independent. “This marks their first step towards empowered contributors to our country’s economic growth,” said Miss Kepi.

The training was provided in partnership with Nationwide Microbank and the largest church network in PNG - the United Church. Nationwide also offers financial literacy training to church members nationwide.

Since 2011, the number of mobile and branchless banking products has grown to five service providers operating via a network of over 900 agents (corner shops/kiosks) across the country.

80% of PNG’s population is unbanked and mobile technology is making it possible for them to access a range of financial products, at a reasonable cost, and on a sustainable basis through a range of providers. UNDP/UNCDF is committed to working with key partners such as Nationwide Microbank to support PNG National Financial Inclusion & Financial Literacy Strategy’s commitment extend financial services to one million more people by end of 2015, of which 50% will be women.

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