The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, #balanceforbetter, is based on the principle that “gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive”.
However, with 783 million people living below the international poverty line of USD 1.90/day (according to the United Nations), there are many communities around the world that are not thriving. The distribution of poverty is not balanced either, with 122 women aged 25 to 34, for example, living in extreme poverty for every 100 men of the same age.
Insurance for low-income populations, or “microinsurance”, is an important safety net which can help prevent both men and women from falling into poverty. Insurance has been recognised as an important mechanism towards achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal for “Gender Equality” for several reasons, including:
- “Insurance protects women against the devastating effects of genderrelated reproductive health risks.”
- “Insurance protects women from the financial impact of losing family members.” (GIZ, 2017)
Microinsurance delivered by mutual or cooperative insurers, known as “mutual microinsurance” contributes towards gender equality beyond financial security. As a policyholder of a mutual microinsurance provider, women may participate in actually running the scheme and are often the primary policyholder, therefore they become empowered to make decisions that will directly affect their livelihoods.
ICMIF launched the 5-5-5 Mutual Microinsurance Strategy (the “5-5-5”) in June 2016 to increase the reach of mutual microinsurance and build resilience in poor communities. Over a period of five years, ICMIF aims to reach 5 million low-income households with microinsurance, in five emerging market countries (Colombia, Kenya, India, the Philippines and Sri Lanka).
To achieve this goal, ICMIF is partnering with local member companies (the “project partners”) to scale up their existing microinsurance operations. The 5-5-5 is also predominantly supported by other ICMIF member companies and like-minded organisations in more developed markets (the “supporting partners”), either through financial or technical assistance projects.
ICMIF has partnered with local member company RIMANSI for the 5-5-5 project in the Philippines to strengthen the capacity of microinsurance mutual benefit associations (Mi-MBAs) to reach 1 million low-income Filipino households with microinsurance protection. Most of these Mi-MBAs are led by women, and 90% of policyholders are also women (ICMIF, 2017). This project launched in June 2016, and ICMIF members CARD MRI (the Philippines), DEVK (Germany), Folksam (Sweden), Thrivent Financial (USA) and Zenrosai (Japan) have all provided financial support.
In India, ICMIF is partnering with its member organisations Uplift Mutuals and the DHAN Foundation for the 5-5-5 project in this country. Data from ICMIF’s country diagnostic report The missing chapter of microinsurance in India – a diagnostic of mutuals confirms over 90% of mutual microinsurance policyholders in India are women. This is mainly because most mutual and cooperative insurers in India have emerged from self-help groups or microcredit operations that have been traditionally developed with/by women. The Co-operators (Canada) are providing financial and technical support to the project with Uplift. A consortium of 15 ICMIF members have so far come together to support the project with the DHAN Foundation which includes; American Agricultural Insurance Company (USA), FMG (New Zealand), JCIF (Japan), LB Group (Denmark), San Cristobal (Argentina), Sancor Seguros (Argentina, Seguros Unimed (Brazil), UNMI (France), Thrivent Financial (USA), Tuw Tuw (Poland), UCMAF (Japan), Unipol Gruppo (Italy), UNIVE Dichtbij (the Netherlands), Zenkyoren (Japan) and Zenrosai (Japan). Achmea (the Netherlands) have also provided technical support.
For the 5-5-5 project in Kenya, ICMIF is working with CIC Insurance Group, which aims to provide an additional 250,000 low-income dairy farmers with affordable microinsurance over the next five years. The entire household benefits from the security offered by this livestock microinsurance product, including women. The project is being supported by ICMIF member companies P&V Assurances (Belgium) and Thrivent Financial (USA), as well as We-Effect (a Swedish non-profit organisation).
ICMIF has also partnered with local member companies Equidad Seguros in Colombia, and Amana Takaful, Sanasa, CICL and COOPLife in Sri Lanka to conduct a research project into the landscape of microinsurance in each country. It is expected that the country intervention projects in Colombia and Sri Lanka will commence in 2019.
The 5-5-5 is a unique opportunity for ICMIF member companies to come together and help create a more balanced society. To find out more about opportunities for ICMIF member companies to support the 5-5-5, please email Naomi Davison at email@example.com.
The governance of the 5-5-5 is overseen by The ICMIF Foundation, a registered charity in England and Wales formed by ICMIF in 2015.
About International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.