Eliminating Poverty? "Financial Inclusion", Access to Land, and Gender Equality in International Development
Abstract: The UK White Paper on International Development published in 2009 explicitly links access to financial services with poverty reduction. In doing so, it echoes the policies the World Bank set out in its 2008 Policy Research Report on Finance. This paper offers a detailed analysis of these development policies and connects the current plans for the expansion of financial sectors in the developing world with policies that promote the acquisition of formal land title. The paper argues that as asset-backed lending expands, commercial banks will come to play an increasingly important role in third world economies. In light of this, it reviews important first-hand accounts of the difficulties of drafting legislation to protect women's access to land in the face of opposition from commercial lenders, using Tanzania and Uganda as illustrative examples. The paper assesses the implications of expanding access to credit for gender equality and concludes that it is difficult to reconcile the promotion of financial inclusion with the aim of international development to end poverty.