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Identity accessibility among barriers to financial inclusion for Nigeria’s rural women

Identity accessibility among barriers to financial inclusion for Nigeria’s rural women

Hindrances to the uptake of digital identity by women, especially in the rural parts of Nigeria, are among the factors impeding the financial inclusion drive in the country, according to findings of a study.

The study, carried out by the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and advocacy group Inclusion for all (I4ALL) in the States of Kano, Oyo and Rivers, was focused on “Access to identity, empowerment, livelihood and financial inclusion of rural female agricultural workers and traders in Nigeria.”

The study notes that despite the productive nature of women in the targeted areas and their willingness to scale up their livelihoods by engaging in more lucrative agricultural practices, they are still held back by several factors, the biggest of which is the lack of capital for agricultural investment.

The women recognize the importance of having an official ID, which can enable them open bank accounts or register mobile numbers for mobile money accounts, the findings note.

However, the study discovers that “the barriers to NIN enrollment remain consistent, bordering largely on the cost of transportation and enrollment, distance to enrollment centers and tedious enrollment processes.”

“Socio-cultural factors did not emerge as direct barriers to ID enrollment, but the use of religious centers for NIN enrollment in Kano which may have obscured such socio-cultural barriers, suggests that the norms still prevail but can be circumvented,” a portion of the report’s executive summary reads.

These findings come as figures of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) indicate that of the over the 101 million Nigerians who have enrolled for the digital ID, women make up just 44 percent, The News Guru reports.

NIMC Director General Aziz Aliyu, speaking during a recent dialogue in Abuja organized by I4ALL, alluded to a study carried out by the NIMC in collaboration with the World Bank which identified some of the reasons for the gender gap in digital ID enrollment. These factors, he said, include lack of awareness, difficult access to enrollment cites, lack of documentation, and other problems related to biometric capture.

Aziz restated the importance of an effective foundational ID system, saying it has the potential to drive financial inclusion and empower women, and also enable access to a wide range of public and private services.

The Abuja event was also an opportunity for officials to present findings of the I4ALL study.

Zaina Sore, IITA head of capacity development said the study was necessary to enable stakeholders better understand the needs and challenges of women in order to “tailor the services that will lead to greater inclusion and economic empowerment.”

Chinasa Collins-Ogbuo, I4ALL head, suggested that in order to increase the number of ID uptake among women, there is need for authorities to pay more attention to remote areas. She said it was also important for synergic action from all relevant stakeholders to support the NIMC’s strategic ambitions to enroll many more women.

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