Financial services such as savings, credit and insurance provide opportunities for improving agricultural output, food security and economic vitality at the household, community and national levels. Without access to credit, producers may be unable to bear the risks and up-front costs associated with the innovations and investment necessary to enhance their productivity, income and well-being.
But evidence shows that credit markets are not gender-neutral: Women generally have less control over the types of fixed assets that are usually necessary as collateral for loans. Legal barriers and cultural norms can bar women from holding bank accounts or entering into financial contracts in their own right. And institutional discrimination by private and public lending institutions often rations women out of the market, or grants them loans that are smaller than those granted to men for similar activities.1 These constraints on women’s access to capital have a measurable negative impact on their production capabilities.