Financial inclusion survey highlights women’s role in managing household finances

Limited access to financial services has been identified as one of the key constraints to economic participation among people living in eastern Indonesia.

We have been tasked to design and implement a financial inclusion survey, which is aimed at improving understanding about people’s use of financial services in four provinces in eastern Indonesia – East Java, West Nusa Tenggara, South Sulawesi and East Nusa Tenggara.

The Survey on Financial Inclusion and Access (SOFIA) is a comprehensive survey on financial usage and access. Among many interesting findings from the survey, SOFIA data showed that women play a critical role as ‘hidden financial managers’ within households: even though assets, such as land and property, are still primarily owned by men, women perform important decision-making functions on the household’s finances. The survey revealed, for example, that more than 60% of women in the provinces surveyed make decisions about the management of household finances independently of their partners, and male spouses often attributed the function of budgeting and financial decision-making to their wives. Women are the ones who typically keep track of household income and make decisions regarding spending.

While there is a case to develop financial products that cater to the particular needs of women, these findings also suggest that in order to understand how money is used or spent in households, women are critical actors to engage with. This information on household income and spending can be important when designing financial products – whether these be savings, micro-credit, insurance, or payment services.

“From selling petrol and other merchandise at my kiosk, I can earn IDR 2.5 to 3 million in a month. I save the money at home in cash,” said Theresia, a micro-entrepreneur from NTT. She adds, “I also save my husband’s salary at home, and not in a bank or a cooperative.”

The results of the SOFIA survey were announced in a recent event, which brought together representatives from relevant government agencies, various financial services providers and development partners, especially those supporting the promotion of financial inclusion in Indonesia.

"SOFIA is an important project for us, given its potential to inform policies in financial inclusion in Indonesia and support the work of private sector institutions, such as banks, in developing new products to reach the unbanked,” said Abigail Carpio, senior consultant at Oxford Policy Management and team leader for the SOFIA project."

Discover more about our findings from SOFIA in the video below:


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