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Technology Will Advance Women’s Financial Inclusion

Context

The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) has helped India make significant strides in the last-mile delivery of banking services to underserved communities.

Relevance:

GS Paper-1: Role of women and women’s organization

Mains Question

Women in India are opening more bank accounts than ever before, but they aren’t actively working in the formal financial sector. Why is this happening, and how can it be fixed? (250 Words)


Pradhan Mantri’s stance PMJDY, or Jan Dhan Yojana

  • On August 28, 2014, it was introduced.
  • Goal: Ensure that every household has access to banking services, and that every adult has access to credit, insurance, and pension services.
  • Unlike earlier financial inclusion initiatives, PMJDY focuses on households and sub-service areas with 1,000–1,500 households.
  • Incorporates both urban and rural areas.
  • Additional Services
    • RuPay debit card with a built-in $1 lakh insurance policy.
    • $30,000 in life insurance.
    • A $5,000 overdraft facility.
  • Take note: The process of ensuring that vulnerable groups have access to the financial products and services they require at prices they can afford in a transparent manner from institutional players is known as financial inclusion.

Key Points:

  • Since the launch of the system in 2014, there have been an increase in bank accounts opened in the nation, going from 147 million in March 2015 to 462 million in June 2022.
  • According to a report by the Bank for International Settlements, this is the country that opened the most bank accounts in the same time period, up 45%.
  • Women control 56% of all these new bank accounts.
  • Closing of the Gender Gap: From 17% in 2011 to 6% in 2017, India achieved remarkable financial inclusion and significantly closed the gender gap.
  • Actual Use of Bank Accounts: The majority of women only use their PMJDY accounts to withdraw the benefit transfers they are entitled to from the various government programmes; they rarely use them to save money, establish credit, or use any financial services like insurance and loans.

Reasons for Limited Engagement:

  • The majority of women typically work and shop four kilometres from their homes.
  • Privacy and Confidentiality: Women often worry about their privacy and confidentiality, which makes them hesitant to talk to total strangers about their personal finances.
  • Socio-cultural Barriers: Women may experience social and cultural restrictions, such as discrimination, gender norms, and mobility restrictions, that prevent them from accessing financial services.
  • Financial literacy: Women may not be as financially literate as men, which makes it challenging for them to comprehend and use financial products and systems.
  • Collateral deficiency: Women may lack the necessary assets as security for loans, which makes it difficult for them to access credit and other financial services.

How Can Women Participate More Actively In Financial Markets?

  • Promoting Digital Payments: o Actively encouraging women to use digital payments is one way to increase the number of women who participate in the financial markets.
  • Women wouldn’t need to physically visit a bank branch to use financial services if they could be offered over mobile devices.
    • Digital payments give women a greater sense of control over their financial information by providing a level of privacy and confidentiality that is far superior to what would have been available at a bank branch.
  • Active Service Design: Fintech companies and financial institutions must work together to actively design their services to meet the needs of women at all societal levels.
    • By not doing more to cater to female clients, the financial services sector annually loses out on about $700 billion in revenue.
    • Market participants must gain a deeper understanding of the unique difficulties that women frequently encounter and develop products that directly address these issues.
  • Gendered Lens: o To ensure that they are not merely superficially repackaging a generic financial product and serving it to women, they must actively take into consideration their sincere concerns about limited mobility and access to information. They must apply a gendered lens to each stage of the product delivery cycle.
  • Particular Challenges for Women: o It is important to acknowledge that the issues that women face can have a different impact on their financial lives than those that men experience.
  • For instance, despite the fact that women typically live longer, they also have higher medical costs, making traditional retirement planning inadequate for the needs of the average woman.
  • Digital and Financial Capabilities: It’s critical to make sure women have the financial and digital skills necessary to effectively use digital payment tools.
    • In rural areas, this would entail fostering the ecosystem of business correspondents by teaching them how to support their clients more effectively and provide them with services beyond basic banking.
  • Redesigning Digital Payment Solutions: o It is simple to redesign digital payment solutions to enable privacy and confidentiality as well as to specifically address the issues of mobility and information access, which are major roadblocks to women’s financial inclusion.
  • Partnering with women’s organisations: o These organisations can help to build trust and relationships with women in the community and provide a platform for financial services firms to engage with them. o Financial services firms can partner with women’s organisations to provide financial education and services to women.

Conclusion:

Financial services companies can undoubtedly make a significant contribution to closing the financial inclusion gap for women by creating goods and services that are specifically catered to their needs as well as by offering support and training to encourage women to become more financially literate and involved in the financial system.


March 2024
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