The Relationship between Financial Inclusion and Women's Empowerment: Evidence from Iraq
The study aimed to test the relationship between financial inclusion and women's empowerment in Iraq to determine whether financial inclusion promotes women's empowerment under the pretext that if we can empower women, this will have a positive impact on the sustainable development process in the country. The study adopted the descriptive analysis approach to test the variables of the study, namely, financial inclusion (owning an account, owning a bank card, saving with an official financial institution, borrowing from an official institution, borrowing from family or friends, receiving salaries from the public sector, and receiving salaries from the private sector) as an independent variable and its relationship to economic empowerment expressed in the percentage of women's participation in the labor market as a dependent variable. The secondary data of the study was collected based on the Global Findex database issued by the World Bank. The study period included four periods for 10 years (2011 - 2021) based on the survey periods issued by the World Bank every three years. Based on the descriptive analysis, the study found that the percentage of women's participation in the labor market in Iraq is very weak in the public and private sectors and that the utilization of financial inclusion programs promotes women's empowerment economically. Thus, the results proved the validity of the study hypothesis that there is a strong relationship between indicators of financial inclusion and the empowerment of women in Iraq. The study recommended the decision-makers should review fiscal policies associated with financial inclusion programs to be more suitable for women by expanding digital financial services to link women, especially female entrepreneurs, to markets, increasing income, reducing poverty, facilitating women's control largely over their profits and savings, and all the critical elements of women's economic empowerment.