Last year, AXA published She for Shield: Insuring Women to Better Protect All, a report produced in collaboration with IFC-World Bank and Accenture in ten emerging markets*. The study revealed the potential of the women’s insurance market: from an estimated $770 billion in 2013, it is expected to double in size by 2030 and reach $1,450 to $1,700 billion. The rate of growth may be even more spectacular in emerging markets, increasing nine-fold from $100 billion to $900 billion.
In emerging economies, women are gaining more purchasing power and increasingly accessing education and higher-level employment. But despite their growing needs, they are still not getting adequate protection: this is due to a lack of appropriate products and insufficient information about available solutions.
A protection deficit for women has been observed in mature markets as well. In France, only 39% of women have a savings account of some kind, compared to 45% of men. Women also have scant coverage for health, disability, and long-term care: in the United Kingdom, only 9% of women have private medical insurance, compared to 14% of men.
And yet, women are a vital force in the economy. Whether as entrepreneurs or heads of household, they are making an increasing number of financial decisions. Women are willing to invest up to 90% of their disposable income into their family’s protection (the overall needs of their spouses and children, education, health and savings), versus 40% for men. Women own one-third of the world’s businesses, and their average income in emerging markets is increasing by 8.1% a year, versus 5.8% for men**.
Despite this exciting growth potential, we have not done enough to consider women as a strategic customer segment requiring a specific approach. These past few months, we laid the foundation of our strategy for this segment: to become a trusted partner for women everywhere in the world. This strategy has three complementary pillars.
Better protecting our women customers everywhere in the world
Our mission is to do everything we can to better protect women, by adjusting coverage or offering innovative products specifically developed for women. AXA Mexico has created “Mujer Unica Inversion”, a new savings and personal protection product for women aged 35 to 55 with a cancer risk. In Nigeria, AXA offers a form of health coverage to women who cannot afford to take out traditional insurance.
Innovative partnerships are also a part of this approach. In Mexico, we have teamed up with UNICEF and very soon we will be launching a program to fight obesity that relies on the participation of women. The goal is to get 6,000 women with small children to adopt healthy eating and exercise habits.
Supporting women at work
The second pillar of our strategy is about supporting women in the workplace. We must ensure that all women are given the tools they need to enter the workforce and become financially independent.
By incorporating specific elements into their coverage, we can protect women business owners from a business interruption in the event of a pregnancy or a sick child.
By implementing targeted initiatives to support, inform and advise women through our distribution networks, we can create a network of support to address their day-to-day concerns and build a stronger structure for protection: preparing for retirement, planning for long-term care, improving financial education, and so on.
Nurturing the entrepreneurial ecosystem for women
Improving access to funding for women entrepreneurs is a core element of our strategy. Unequal access to funding puts women at a disadvantage and is the foremost obstacle to the development and growth of women entrepreneurship.
A few months ago, we became a partner of Global Invest Her, an international platform dedicated to facilitating the access to capital for women entrepreneurs. In France, our partnership with the Entreprendre foundation aims to encourage entrepreneurship among women of all ages.
I am proud to be a global champion of this strategy. Of course, women do not have the same needs for protection in all of the 65 countries where AXA does business, but there is progress to be made everywhere to reduce protection inequality and help women live better lives, by offering them greater support and peace of mind.