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Women in the southern Pakistani village of Molvi Suleman Jat gather to discuss their informal community savings program, which they use instead of formal bank accounts, in February. (Photo by Betsy Joles)
The Big Story

Pakistan's financial gender gap aggravates chronic poverty

With little access to bank accounts, women rely on one another to save

BETSY JOLES, Contributing writer | Pakistan

LAHORE -- Only 13% of women in Pakistan own bank accounts, the fourth-lowest proportion in the world.

When she was growing up, Mashal Wali watched her mother, Nasreen Muzaffar, put away a little money every week, storing it in a safe in their home. She would bring it with her when she went to the jamatkhana, a prayer hall for people from the Ismaili subsect of Shiite Islam. There, Muzaffar would contribute the money to a group savings account organized by managers at the adjacent community center near her home in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of northern Pakistan.

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