Delegates from JICA Vietnam and Vietnam Women’s Union at the signing ceremony in Hanoi on November 28. (Photo courtesy of JICA)

Hanoi (VNA) – The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Vietnam Office and the Vietnam Women’s Union (VWU) signed a record of discussions for the “project of promoting gender responsive financial inclusion through the Vietnam Women’s Union” in Hanoi on November 28.

The technical cooperation project is expected to be implemented from March 2019 to March 2021. It aims at improving VWU’s capacity to promote development and delivery of financial and non-financial services responding to the needs of local women.

Under the project, JICA and VWU will work together to provide training to financial service providers such as microfinance organisations and commercial banks on the basis of gender-responsive financial inclusion and good practices from other countries.

At the same time, the project will support selected financial service providers to develop new products which respond to the diversified needs of women at different stages of life.

Lessons learnt and hands-on experiences from the project will be shared with Vietnamese policymakers as references for advocacy in promoting financial inclusion.

In Vietnam, only 31 percent of adults have bank accounts. As few as 14 percent of adults have savings deposits at a financial institution and 21 percent borrowed money from formal financial institutions.

Although the majority of customers of microfinance services are women, the types of financial products available to them are quite limited.

International experiences have shown women’s financial inclusion generates benefits for society in addition to improvements in the wellbeing of women.

To encourage financial service providers to offer women-friendly products, an enabling policy environment is necessary and thus gender-responsiveness needs to be integrated into national financial inclusion policy.

To address these issues, in 2016, the Government of Vietnam asked the Government of Japan for technical cooperation to promote gender responsive financial inclusion.

For JICA, promoting gender equality and empowerment of women is crucial to achieve the “inclusive development” goal. - VNA