The fact that women continue to be excluded from the financial sphere of the country is a reminder of the gender gap that’s still exists in the country. Fiscal empowerment of women is a key factor towards the greater upliftment of their status in the society.

Gender And Data Watch in India

Despite all the efforts made by the government, women still don’t have the resources like a bank account and financial aid for education. The Reserve Bank of India has published an overview of the financial year 2016-17, “Report of the Committee on Medium-term Path on Financial Inclusion.” The RBI suggests ways of reducing the gender gap and assimilate women in the financial inclusion plan.

“The Committee believes that addressing significant pockets of exclusion, the adoption of technology and allowing multiple models and partnerships to emerge could effectively buttress the cause of financial inclusion,” the report read. The aim is to give ideas and inputs for policymakers and to carry the project of financial inclusion ahead and make the financial system of the country and the society more efficient.

Bank accounts and education

Keeping in mind the exclusion the girl child, the RBI report gave the proposal setting up bank account for females. Along with the government’s multiple girl child welfare programs, a welfare scheme like Sukanya Shiksha will help in the empowerment. An account will be opened for each girl child from the lower income group who enrols in middle school—that can be jointly funded by the central and state governments. The report suggests that it can be funded by the state and the central government and will help lower the dropout rates. 

Numbers Are Worrying

  • Apart from the rural urban divide, there is a gender gap in the financial inclusion. Women earn 10-30 per cent less than men. 2 billion adults that do not have bank account, 1.1 billion are women.
  • The gender gap in account ownership has not changed globally and stays at 9 percent.
  • Along with this, South Asia seems to have the highest, 18% while India tops that with 20%.
  • Women are paying a higher interest rate than men, even though it is coming down due to an increase in the per capita income.

Women can be empowered through financial inclusion. The report advises to implement microfinance schemes as they can improve women’s economic situation.

Corporates and Self Help Groups

Another recommendation given by the RBI to bigger corporates is to encourage, support and nurture Self Help Groups (SHG) and include them in their Corporate Social Responsibility.  Since most of the rural Self Help Groups are led or constituted by women, giving more fund to them to increase their output would lead to a chain effect.

By getting more money these women could increase their output and thus ear more profit. This will help them save more an d thus lead to a greater financial inclusion.

State Specific Approach

The other recommendation has a more state specific approach.  “Given the increased role of the states in public welfare and the elimination of poverty and the higher transfer payments by the state governments following the 14th Finance Commission recommendations, the Committee recommends that the states need to adopt direct benefit transfer (DBT) more vigorously,” suggests the RBI report. It lists down the following schemes as examples for future plans.

Madhya Pradesh-  Laadli Laxmi Yojna

  • To improve girls’ future by making their economic and education prospects better
  • Altering mind-set towards female foeticide and infanticide.
  • The state government purchases national savings certificates worth rs. 6,000 in the name of a girl every year after she is born until the amount reaches rs. 30,000.

Maharashtra-  Bhagyashree

  • Targeted at the girl child in the Below Poverty Line population.
  • Each account of the girl child will get Rs. 21,200 from the government
  •  Would grow to Rs. 100,000 when the child reaches 18 years of age.

West Bengal: Kanyashree Prakalpa

  • Empowerment of teenage girls.
  • Zero-balance bank accounts are opened in the name of girls through simplified account opening procedures
  • Fund transfer occurs directly into the account of the beneficiary.

Uttar Pradesh:  Rani Laxmi Bai Pension scheme

  • Women head of a Below Poverty Line (BPL) family would receive a pension of Rs.400 per month from the government.
  • The money will be paid every six months directly to the bank account of the person.

Andhra Pradesh:  Golden Girl (Bangaru Talli)

  • Supports the BPL family of a girl child from her birth until her graduation.
  • Until the girl reaches the age of five, the family will be given Rs.1500 every year.
  • When she is admitted in school, she will be paid Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 2,000 every year until she completes fifth standard.
  • If the girl stops her education at the plus two level, Rs. 50,000 will be paid towards her marriage expenses.
  • Rs. 100,000 if she opts for marriage after graduation.

Tamil Nadu: Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy Maternity Benefit Scheme

  • To assist pregnant women in BPL families
  • cash assistance of Rs. 12,000 is given to expecting women.

Telengana: AASARA pension scheme

  • for the disabled, widows and aged.
  • The monthly pension amount is remitted into the bank / post office account of the pensioner.