In the banking industry, an indefensible gender imbalance persists at the leadership level. Among the country's 28 commercial banks, only Melika Bedri, president of ZamZam Bank, holds a position at the apex, making her a rare example in an industry where only four women have historically ascended to such heights. The leadership discrepancy reflects broader financial inclusion issues for women in Ethiopia, who are less likely than men to own bank accounts, access credit, or adopt new payment methods.

The disparity extends beyond individual access to financial services, touching on wider economic empowerment and equality issues. The World Bank's Africa Gender Innovation Lab, through its "Innovations in Financing Women Entrepreneurs" initiative, is teaming with banks and microfinance institutions to create financial products that cater specifically to women entrepreneurs. However, a significant gap remains. A recent gathering of industry leaders — including Abie Sano (left) of the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE), Mamo Mihretu, governor of the Central Bank, Asfaw Alemu of Dashen Bank, and Teferi Mekonnen of Oromia Bank (right) — at the Sheraton Addis pledged commitment to addressing gender disparities. Yet, the irony of a predominantly male leadership discussing women's financial inclusion exposed the systemic nature of the issue.

PUBLISHED ON Mar 30,2024 [ VOL 24 , NO 1248]

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