The technology can help circumvent traditional barriers to women’s empowerment.
It has the potential to transform education by resolving infrastructural and institutional-related costs typically faced by less developed and geographically remote communities.
But blockchain’s ability to empower women striving to escape poverty goes beyond education. It can improve social inclusion by granting equal opportunities to every individual regardless of background and status.
It offers small business owners affordable and efficient cross-border payments, and can help women gain access to previously unavailable finance.
In countries that still prohibit women from having property rights, women can turn to blockchain or cryptocurrencies to circumvent restrictive cultural norms and gain financial access outside of the traditional banking system.
Female micro-entrepreneurs without assets for collateral can turn to crypto-funding to finance their business.
For example, the Grameen Foundation offered blockchain-enabled micro-financing to support women entrepreneurs in the Philippines during COVID-19.
Blockchain technology has also been used to aid women refugees in humanitarian crises.
Immigration systems can provide unidentifiable and displaced people with verifiable personal identification on a blockchain-based database.
Financial assistance can be deposited in the form of digital currency or cryptocurrency at minimal transaction cost into their accounts to enable them access to basic amenities.
Since the emergence of Bitcoin in 2009, blockchain technology and distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) have been widely adopted in various sectors.
A recent report by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers revealed that blockchain technology has the potential to increase global GDP by US$1.76 trillion in the next ten years.
As a revolutionary technology, blockchain has significant potential for empowering women in vulnerable and marginalised communities. It can improve their livelihood which then reduces household, community and national poverty.
The two most critical aspects that can help women gain equality are better access to education and income-generating opportunities.
Blockchain technology can be the tipping point for social inclusion and poverty alleviation.
Andrei Kwok is Senior Lecturer, Department of Management, School of Business, Monash University Malaysia. He declares no conflict of interest.