While progress has been made in reducing the gender gap, the global average for women's annual earnings is still only about half that of men's, despite the fact that women work longer hours when unpaid work is taken into account. Around the world, women's access to land and other assets continues to be restricted by law or custom, particularly in developing countries.
Approximately 33% of married women in developing countries have no control over household spending on major purchases, and 10% are not consulted on how their own income is spent. Global Findex data shows that 1.1 billion women worldwide remain largely outside the financial system, and women in developing economies are 9% less likely than men to have a bank account.
Many microfinance institutions explicitly target women because they believe - and studies show - that improving access to financial services helps empower women to be more involved in household decision-making and to access better choices for themselves and their families.