UN Special Advocate Queen Máxima urges Pakistan to bring the poorest and most marginalized people into the financial system
ISLAMABAD – Dutch Queen Máxima arrived in Islamabad on Monday morning on a three-day visit in her capacity as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA).
Queen Máxima is visiting Pakistan in support of the implementation of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy.
Queen Maxima arrives in Pakistan as UN Envoy for advocacy for financial inclusion for development. pic.twitter.com/AytUdIKkL1
— Karel van Oosterom (@KvanOosterom) February 9, 2016
Pakistan faces significant challenges when it comes to financial inclusion. Despite a strong regulatory foundation, the percentage of Pakistanis with some kind of formal financial account remains very low, and financial access for women lags particularly.
Pakistan launched this strategy in May 2015, in order to increase access to and usage of financial services by all Pakistanis, including those who traditionally marginalized in the formal financial system.
“Financial inclusion gives people the means to access savings, insurance and credit facilities to improve their own and their children’s lives,” said the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Pakistan, Mr Neil Buhne. “Ensuring even the poorest people can access financial tools is an essential foundation for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Pakistan,” he added.
While schemes such as the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) have included innovative measures to bring the poorest women into the financial system, such as life insurance products and digital banking for funding recipients, much more needs to be done.
Pakistan’s newly launched Financial Inclusion Strategy seeks to bring Pakistanis into the formal financial system through a series of measures to increase access and develop the financial ecosystem, including the use of digital financial services to enable women and men even in remote areas to easily access and use financial services.
As the Special Advocate, HM Queen Máxima leads a global effort to advocate for financial inclusion for the most marginalized.
Queen Maxima meets PM and other officials
Queen Maxima of the Netherlands called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as she began her three-day visit as part of global efforts to promote financial inclusion on Tuesday. During the meeting at PM House in Islamabad, the prime minister said Pakistan valued its relations with the Netherlands, both bilaterally and within the context of the European Union.
She held meetings with the President of the World Bank and Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.
During her visit to Pakistan, Queen Máxima will also hold meetings President Mamnoon Hussain and State Bank of Pakistan Governor Ashraf Mahmood Wathra to encourage them to take the necessary steps to implement the Financial Inclusion Strategy.
She will also meet people who are benefiting from a range of financial inclusion programmes. Throughout her mission she will encourage the Government to develop a favourable environment for digital financial services (including reviewing NADRA fee structures for verification) and promote access to financing for micro, small and medium enterprises in both rural and urban areas. She will also urge officials to close the gender gap in financial inclusion.