Helen McKenzie

International Women’s Day: Mapping Financial Inequality by Gender

“Imagine a gender equal world.”

That’s the first thing you read on https://www.internationalwomensday.com/.

To reach that world, we need to know the inequalities women face, and where they face them. There’s no better way of understanding “where” than with a map.

For International Women’s Day 2022, we analyze access to financial services across the globe, by gender.

Our map visualizations, developed using the CARTO Builder tool, outline how financial inequality affects women around the world. The maps show the notable differences between women and men for several financial indicators, including receiving a wage or having a bank account. Whilst global financial inclusion is improving (World Bank, 2017), there are still strides to be made to reach full gender equality.

Mapping Financial Inequality

These visualizations were created using our cloud native Location Intelligence platform, a web-based location analytics and visualization platform. The map is based on Natural Earth data (which CARTO users can access free of charge from our Spatial Data Catalog) which we populated with data from the World Bank Global Findex.

World Bank Global Findex

This map is based on data from the World Bank: the Global Findex. We have picked out ten indicators from this dataset that show how women aged over 15 in 165 countries experience financial inequality. For each indicator, we took the most recent year of available data ranging from between 2011 and 2017. The ten indicators are the percentage of women who:

World Bank Global Findex icons

We’ll now run through each of these indicators in turn, drawing out the key insights you should take from each.

Financial Gender Inequality Insights

Yellow areas show where there is less than 1 percentage point (pp) difference between the men and women accessing a service. Redder areas show where more men access the services, and greener areas show where more women do.

Received a wage

The definition of “received a wage” from the World Bank is the percentage of people who “received any money from an employer in the past 12 months in the form of a salary or wages for doing work. This does not include any money received directly from clients or customers, male (% age 15+).” The highest inequality between genders under this definition is experienced in Egypt, with a difference of 39.56pp between men and women. 48.69% of men report earning a wage, whilst only 9.13% of women do. This is the largest difference between men and women in any country across any of the ten indicators. This is one of the indicators where inequality is most prevalent across the globe. Only 9 of the 165 countries included in this dataset have a difference of less than 1pp between genders, and in only three do more women earn a wage than men which are all in Europe (Switzerland, Poland and Germany).

Had access to a bank account

Having a bank account is an important element of a person’s financial independence. It allows individuals to control their ingoings and outgoing and be more confident about their financial security. Whilst it may look like there is a lot of “yellow” on this map, there are in fact only 28 countries where there is less than 1pp difference between the percentage of men and women who have a bank account. This is relatively high compared to many of the other indicators, but still only a fraction of the 165 countries included in this data. The country where this inequality is highest is Jordan, with 29.67pp difference between the genders (56.28% of men have a bank account, whilst only 26.61% of women do).

Owned a debit card

Explore the map here

Unlike some of the other indicators, it’s difficult to make sweeping geographical interpretations of this indicator as there are not many clear geographic trends. For example, regions and bordering countries do not typically exhibit similar levels of inequality. The exception to this is the regions of Oceania and Australasia where in general more women own a debit card than men.

Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

Owned a credit card

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There are some interesting differences between credit card and debit card ownership. Some of the countries where more women than men have a debit card see this reversed for credit card ownership, such as Argentina, Australia, Norway and Finland. Another interesting insight is that some of the European countries which have typically fared better with other indicators - such as Norway, Finland, Denmark and Germany - all exhibit higher inequality here.

Borrowed money for medical purposes

This indicator is one where men and women have greater equality. In 58 countries there is less than 1pp difference between the number of men and women who have borrowed money for medical purposes, which is by far the largest number across all indicators. There are no countries where the difference between men and women borrowing for medical purposes exceeds 10pp. Of course, borrowing money for medical purposes is not necessarily a positive thing.

Made savings in the last year

Generally the trend in this data is that more men have made savings over the last year. This is particularly the case of the Americas (with inequality peaking at 17.9pp in Mexico), as well as Africa and Asia. There are, however, some interesting spatial outliers in this data where women are more likely to have saved money than men, despite being located in regions where the reverse is typically true. Examples of this include Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nepal.

Saved money specifically for old age

Explore the map here

Whilst inequality is still prevalent for this indicator, it is relatively lower than for some of the other indicators.

31 countries exhibit less than 1pp of difference between the percentage of women and men who have made savings specifically for old age. There are also 21 countries where more women have made savings than men, which is high compared to other indicators but low compared to the 107 countries where more men have made savings.

Inequality is high across the Americas, reflecting the picture of the previous indicator where more men had made savings than women in general.

Have a housing loan

Explore the map here

This is the indicator for which the number of countries not exhibiting inequality is highest. There are 41 countries where there is less than onepp of difference between the number of men and women with a housing loan. However there are still 105 countries where more men have a housing loan than women, peaking in Saudi Arabia where 17.74pp more men than women have a housing loan.

Were able to access emergency funds

The definition of this indicator is the percentage of respondents for who “in case of an emergency it is possible for them to come up with 1/20 of gross national income (GNI) per capita in local currency within the next month.”

The greatest difference between men and women for this indicator is Afghanisatan, where the difference between the number of men and women able to access emergency funds is 39.54pp. After Egypt for the indicator “received a wage”, this is the second greatest difference of any country for any indicator. Aside from 11 outliers where more women have been able to access emergency funds than men - notably in Europe - inequality across this indicator is high. There are only 10 countries where there is less than 1pp difference between the number of men and women able to access emergency funds.

Sent or received a digital payment

Explore the map here

One of the interesting insights from this map is how there is little difference between the number of men and women making/receiving digital payments in Southeast Asia and Oceania, with the notable exception of Malaysia. Fewer women have made/recieved digital payments across much of Africa and Asia, peaking in Saudi Arabia where the difference is 31.76pp.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash


Across all but 1 of the 10 financial equality indicators, in the majority of countries more men typically use each “service” than women. The exception to this is the “borrowed for medical purposes” indicator, where more countries either have little difference in the number of men/women borrowing or have more women. In the “gender equal world” that International Women’s Day tells us to imagine, it’s clear that much of the world still has a long way to go.


Data - and particularly spatial data - are such a fundamental way of helping people to understand the different experiences we all have across the globe. Maps are not only an incredible tool in helping us to analyze and understand this data, but a powerful way to have people engage with the stories it tells. CARTO users can benefit from a wide range of data to help them understand equality, equity and the challenges surrounding these. Our Spatial Data Catalog includes detailed data on demographics and finances, such as our Mastercard Geographic Insights dataset which includes information on transaction size, count and frequency.

CARTO Grants

At CARTO we believe that maps and data have the power to change the way we understand our world. Are you a small nonprofit looking to change the world using location intelligence? You may be eligible for a CARTO grant! Current grantees are using CARTO to map out fairtrade coffee farms, eviction rates and Covid-19 hospitalization rates. Find out more about our grant scheme here.

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EU Flag This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 960401.
About the author
Helen McKenzie

Helen is CARTO's Geospatial Advocate where she works to get the data science community excited about thinking about “where?” Whether it's electric vehicle Site Selection, analyzing caffeination deprivation or choosing the next Eurovision Song Contest venue, Helen's posts are all about opening your eyes to the possibilities of geospatial.

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