Glossary of Terms


The ability to make decisions about one’s own life and to act on them to achieve desired outcomes. Gender-based differences in the ability to make these choices, usually to women’s disadvantage, exist in all countries and cultures.

Biometric verification

Any means by which a person can be uniquely identified by evaluating one or more distinguishing biological traits, such as fingerprints, hand and earlobe geometry, retina and iris patterns, voice waves, and DNA.


A system of recording information in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to change, hack, or cheat the system. A blockchain is essentially a digital ledger of transactions that is duplicated and distributed across the entire network of computer systems on the blockchain.

Clever design features

Add-on features to a given project that increase the likelihood of women's participation in an initiative by addressing gender-related constraints, for example, by providing childcare.


Improving, enabling and/or transforming a business, government, or other function or process through the use of digital technologies and data, including data analytics, to achieve a goal or objective.

Digitally enabled services

Services for which digital information and communications technologies (ICT) play an important role in facilitating transactions.

Digital financial services (DFS)

Services that rely on digital technologies for their delivery and use by consumers.

Digital technologies

Electronic tools, systems, devices, and resources that generate, store, or process data. Examples include social media, online games, multimedia, and mobile phones.

Economic Participation and Opportunity Gap

An indicator combining concepts: a participation gap, i.e., the difference between rates of women’s and men’s labor force participation; a remuneration gap, i.e., the ratio of estimated female-to-male earned income; and an advancement gap, i.e., wage equality for similar work. (World Economic Forum 2020b)


Cash value that is stored on a card, phone, or other electronic device.


Digital technologies that have the potential to transform financial services provision, spurring the development of new — or the modification of existing — business models, applications, processes, and products. In practice, the term “fintech” is also broadly used to denote the ongoing wave of new DFS. Examples of these technologies include web, mobile, cloud services, machine learning, digital ID, and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).


The characteristics of women, men, girls and boys that are socially constructed. This includes norms, behaviors and roles associated with being a woman, man, girl or boy, as well as their relationships with each other.

Gender equality

Refers to how socially constructed norms, rights, responsibilities, opportunities, and entitlements determine relations between women and men and result in gender differences in opportunities and outcomes.

Gender gaps

Differences between women and men, especially as reflected in social, political, cultural, or economic attainments or attitudes.

Gender inequality

Refers to how the differences constructed by societies between women and men translate into inequalities; the term does not refer exclusively to women.

Gender norm

A standard defining acceptable and appropriate (and unacceptable and inappropriate) actions for women and men in a given society. Gender norms are embedded in formal and informal institutions and are produced and reproduced through social interactions.

Gender-based violence (GBV)

An umbrella term for any harmful act that is perpetrated against a person’s will and that is based on socially ascribed differences between women and men. GBV includes acts that inflict physical, mental, or sexual harm or suffering; threats of such acts; and coercion and other deprivations of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life. (IASC 2015)

Information and communications technology (ICT)

The infrastructure and components that enable modern computing. The term is generally accepted to mean all devices, networking components, applications, and systems that combined allow people and organizations to interact in the digital world.


Exhibiting newness to customers, with offerings generally not available from the competition.


Implementation of a new or significantly improved product, service or process, a new marketing method, or a new organizational method in business practices, workplace, or organization.

Know Your Customer/e-Know Your Customer (KYC)

Know your customer or know your client guidelines in financial services require that professionals make an effort to verify the identity, suitability, and risks involved in maintaining a business relationship. The procedures fit within the broad scope of a financial service provider's Anti-Money Laundering (AML) policy and should be proportionate to risks involved with the account, transaction amounts, and country context.

Mobile money

A transaction account not held at a bank and accessible using a mobile phone or other mobile device. The value in such an account is referred to as eMoney.


A mobile banking service available in Tanzania through a partnership between Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA) and Vodacom. During its first two years, M-Pawa provided $19.5 million in digital loans to 4.9 million subscribers.


A mobile banking service available in Kenya that was launched by Safaricom, the country's largest mobile phone operator, in 2007. The service allows users to store and transfer money through their mobile phones. In Tanzania, M-Pesa was launched by Vodacom in 2008. M stands for “mobile”; pesa is the Swahili word for money.


Small- and medium-sized enterprises.  Formalized, non-subsistence sole proprietorships and limited liability corporations with ten employees or more.

Social desirability bias

A bias emerging when research subjects give responses they believe are socially acceptable rather than reporting their true thoughts or practices.

TEA (total early-stage entrepreneurship activity)

The percentage of adult working age population (18 to 64 years of age) who are either nascent or new entrepreneurs.

WBG Gender Strategy

An outline of the World Bank Group’s (WBG) objectives related to gender equality that spells out strategies to operationalize them.

Women-owned business

An enterprise that is at least 50 percent owned and operated by a female.


Formalized, nonsubsistence sole proprietorships and limited liability corporations that are at least 50 percent owned and operated by a female.