KOKOPO, PAPUA NEW GUINEA (31 May 2017) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG), and the Center for Excellence in Financial Inclusion (CEFI) today officially launched a Gender Equity and Social Inclusion (GESI) Policy for Microfinance Institutions in front of central governors from all Pacific island countries, panelists, and participants at the Alliance for Financial Inclusion’s (AFI) Pacific Islands Regional Initiative (PIRI) meeting.

Loi Bakani, Bank of PNG Governor, Bruce Davis, Australia’s High Commissioner to PNG, and Saliya Ranasinghe, Team Leader of the Microfinance Expansion Project, launched the policy at the two-day event.

“In 2016, at the Global Policy Forum in Fiji, members of the AFI endorsed the Denarau Action Plan — a ten-point action plan which confirmed our commitment to gender and women’s financial inclusion,” said Mr. Bakani. “The development of the GESI Policy for Microfinance Institutions in PNG is an important milestone in our work towards full implementation of the Action Plan and reflects our determination to close the gender gap in financial inclusion. It provides a framework for PNG microfinance institutions to integrate gender equity and social inclusion values within their organizations. It is a practical guide helping MFIs to develop their internal capacity, better understand the market segment, and support cultural change to more effectively serve women clients.”

The policy was developed by the Microfinance Expansion Project designed to improve financial inclusion by strengthening PNG’s inclusive financial sector. The project is cofinanced by ADB and the Governments of Australia and PNG. Bank of PNG acts as the policy’s executing agency, with CEFI as the main institution for coordinating financial inclusion and financial education initiatives in the country.

“The project also supports partner financial institutions in their efforts to roll out suitable financial services,” said Liliana Warid, Private Sector Specialist at ADB’s Pacific Liaison and Coordination Office in Sydney. “The new GESI Policy will ensure that the people of PNG have equal and equitable access to financial products and services.”

"Australia is a strong supporter of increased women’s participation in decision-making and leadership,” said Mr. Davis. “It’s the right thing to do and delivers better returns for those businesses. The application of GESI principles and values in the microfinance institutions should lead to new financial products and expand access to financial services, especially for rural women. This will ensure women can participate in economic life and benefit equitably from doing so."

The project, which was launched in April 2012, aimed to increase financial inclusion in PNG and provide financial literacy training to 130,000 people by the end of 2018 — a goal already exceeded by more than 38,000 people. It continues to support the economic and social empowerment of women, with women making up almost half of all trainees to date.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2016, ADB assistance totaled $31.7 billion, including $14 billion in cofinancing.

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