Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands gave a speech at the ABN AMRO head office in Amsterdam on 16 February 2022 at the presentation of a report titled “The value of inclusivity in banking”. Queen Máxima attended in her capacity as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA). This speech has been translated into English.
Mr. Swaak, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Congratulations on the publication of this important report. I’d like to thank everyone who contributed.
You took a deep dive into the data. And you acquired valuable insights that will now enable us to take important steps forward towards a society in which everyone can participate fully.
This report shows that in the Netherlands we fail to take advantage of many opportunities. Women especially still face obstacles because they have insufficient access to financial services that meet their needs.
As the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, I’ve been active in this area for many years now. Not only internationally, but also in the Netherlands. It’s wonderful to carry this work forward with all of you.
Many different groups of women are affected by the issues raised in the report.
Like women entrepreneurs. They miss out on opportunities to innovate and grow.
Like women starting out on the job market. They are held back.
Like female investors. They would like to do more with their money.
And like women on a low income, of whom there are more than three million. They remain needlessly vulnerable.
Let me be clear: the relevance of this subject is not limited to women. It is relevant to us all. Your report shows that we will become far stronger as a society and as an economy if we lift the financial barriers that women face.
A few examples.
- Giving women entrepreneurs the same opportunities as men could add 130 billion euros to the value of our economy.
- Bridging the gender gap between young people starting out on the job market could generate 35 billion euros.
- And giving better help to women on low incomes would generate at least 14 billion euros in additional income.
Inclusive banking is one of the best ways to prepare our country for the future and increase our resilience to adversity.
It’s also one of the best ways to empower and motivate people and boost their prospects. To enhance their self-respect and pride. A belief in their worth, and the confidence that they can participate fully in society and develop their talents.
So it’s not only about extra growth and income. It’s also about mental health, enjoyment of life, equal opportunities and connections.
I’m delighted that this report sets out recommendations that the financial industry as a whole can act on.
For example, they can:
- Learn to understand the real needs of various groups of customers. And develop products and services that cater to them;
- Communicate in a way people can understand; and
- Collect data in order to monitor whether their inclusive banking efforts are really delivering results.
Finally, I urge you all to join forces and build on the work that’s already been done. That’s why I’m pleased to see not only banks taking part today, but also government ministries, SchuldenLab, WOMEN Inc, MoneyWise and others.
Together we can get the financial system to work better for everyone in the Netherlands. It’s great that you are taking part, because we need you to achieve that aim.