Financial Inclusion and COVID-19

The world continues to face a global health and economic crisis due to the ongoing impacts from COVID-19.

The effects on people and the formal and informal economy have been devastating. Further, this pandemic especially impacts vulnerable groups, including segments that already face limited access to financial services and resources, such as women, low-wage workers, and micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs)—priority groups of the Special Advocate.

Women have shouldered the brunt of the economic shocks emanating from the COVID-19 crisis. Early data suggest that women are twice as likely to lose their jobs as a result. Meanwhile, female-led SMES are more likely to close compared to their male counterparts. And UN Women has estimated that 47 million more women and girls worldwide have fallen into poverty since the start of the pandemic.

Governments, the private sector and international organizations all have a critical role in addressing the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19. And the important role of financial inclusion—especially digital—has been only been heightened since the start of the coronavirus crisis. Many governments responded to the crisis by providing funds to citizens through digital channels. For example, over 200 nations have expanded social protection measures, many using foundational ID systems and digital payments to provide transfers directly into bank accounts or mobile wallets.

Since the start of the crisis, the UNSGSA has been working with numerous partners, as well as public and private sector leaders, to assess, support and champion inclusive financial policies and initiatives to aid the response and recovery process. This includes regular meetings with the Special Advocate’s financial inclusion advisors within the Reference Group, along with members of the CEO Partnership for Economic Inclusion (CEOP).

The UNSGSA Office has also shared information with Heads of State and other key leaders from the Special Advocate’s priority focus countries on various COVID-19 financial inclusion policies and initiatives, with an emphasis on digital financial services policies to help support the response to the impact of COVID-19.

To learn more about some of the UNSGSA’s activities related to COVID-19, please explore the links below.