Opening remarks at Gender and Inclusion Conference, Elaine Conkievich, UNDP Resident Representative

Posted November 17, 2021

Good morning ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you very much for the Mongolian Sustainable Finance Association for organizing this event and dedicating a whole discussion around gender and inclusion in the financial sector preceding the Annual Sustainable Finance Forum.

Gender equality is a fundamental human right and the advancement of gender equality is one of the critical development and policy objectives for Mongolia. 

While Mongolia has made steady progress towards improving gender equality in the past, there are still number of challenges and barriers for women to have an equal representation and participation in social, professional, and political spheres.

Women have higher education and lower unemployment rates than men but on average they earn less than men, experience high rates of gender-based violence, and are inadequately represented in decision-making at the national and sub-national levels in Mongolia. 

Mongolia is ranked as a country with high gender development, however, the country’s gender inequality index is below the regional and global average according to UNDP’s 2020 Human Development Report. The Covid-19 pandemic has further exacerbated existing gender inequalities.

Globally we continue to see that women are experiencing the greater effects of the pandemic, as the sectors that they are overrepresented have been hit hard by the pandemic such as retail, tourism and services. 

UNDP and UN Women have been working hard to address the impacts of the crisis on women’s well-being and livelihoods and been creating new collaborations for gender equality. 

We recognize the critical role the private sector plays in boosting women’s economic recovery in the midst of the pandemic and in a post-pandemic world. Our agencies work closely with the private sector through the UN Women’s Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) and the UNDP Business for Gender Equality Programme - Gender Equality Seal for the Private Sector.

These complementary initiatives provide a solid framework and concrete tools for companies to walk the journey to gender equality from commitment to action. 

A number of concrete actions that the private sector can take to enhance gender equality include enhancing the participation and representation of women at management and decision-making level, developing a corporate gender policy, offering flexible work environments to cater for the demands related to gender, and using gender lens when making any business decisions.

 These steps will take us forward to a new level in creating a more inclusive and gender responsive recovery for the society and economy. 

There are multitude of opportunities to enhance gender equality through the financial sector and financial decision-making, by implementing gender-responsive budgeting and gender-responsive financing in the private sector.

In parallel and complimentary to the gender responsive budgeting initiative by the World Bank funded by the EU, the UN Joint Programme on Sustainable development financing, implemented by UNDP and UNICEF is working to support the development of gender-responsive financing framework in the private sector for the past couple of months. 

We conducted a gender baseline study in the financial sector, which will be presented by our consultant very shortly after the opening remarks. 

Based on the gender baseline study, we will develop sample gender policies, tools and gender responsive financial products pilot that can be taken up by commercial banks and financial institutions for implementation and will help contribute to creating more gender responsive financial system.For financial institutions, gender-responsive financing is not only the morally right thing to do, but it is an untapped market and business opportunity. 

For example, women entrepreneurs face specific challenges compared to their male peers, in particular with the lack of collateral for financing as the household properties are mostly under the name of the male family members. Due to these specific challenges, women cannot fully access financing, or they access financing on less favourable terms. 

Therefore, addressing to the specific challenges that are faced by women, there is an opportunity to develop a whole market segment catering to the needs of women and women entrepreneurs.

The gender responsive budgeting from the public finance perspective and gender responsive financing from the private sector financing perspective, altogether creating a gender-responsive financing framework, have been incorporated into the overarching Integrated national financing strategy, which is currently being developed under the leadership of the Ministry of Finance. 

These works build on the cooperation and progresses achieved by our partners. In addition to the GRB work by World Bank, there are various efforts by development partners such as ADB’s work on helping CSOs implement gender equality programs at national, sectoral and local level and EBRD’s work on promoting women entrepreneurs in Mongolia. 

Central Bank of Mongolia started publishing gender statistics of the financial sector from April this year. It is the first effort to understand gender issues and situation in the financial sector, which will help monitor how the financial system is progressing on gender equality front.

There are currently 3-4 commercial banks that offer special loan products to women entrepreneurs and women owned businesses, that are providing more favourable financing terms to the businesses.

Based on these progresses and achievements, we need to cooperate more closely to create a gender-responsive financing across the entire financial system and more gender responsive society as a whole. 

UNDP remains committed to advancing gender equality and inclusion and look forward to continuing our cooperation and partnerships. 

Thank you very much for your attention.