They have been breaking glass ceilings and climbing up the corporate ladder but gender gap follows them like a shadow they haven’t been able to get rid of. Ironic that in a country that has a goddess worshipped for watching over and providing people with wealth and fortune, female financial inclusion is still a far-fetched dream.
According to a recent study released by the World Bank, 42% of the female bank accounts in India are dormant. This is by far the highest proportion of dormant accounts in the world. Also, when it comes to savings and borrowings, the report card of female account holders is marked with the proverbial red ink.
Moreover, it is a truth universally acknowledged that the wage gap between men and women in India is the widest, in case of the hourly pay of labour. According to the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) recent findings, Indian women are paid 34% less than their male counterparts.
In a scenario like this, the digital boom that India is witnessing has a vital role to play in shrinking the gender gap in financial inclusion. Especially FinTech that specialises in banking and other financial services need to step up and make finance more accessible to women in India.
Spreading financial awareness could be a good approach to begin the revolution. This will ensure better control of their finances and will enable them to take money-related matters in their hands instead of depending on male members in the family.
All they need to do is leverage their existing technical expertise and penetrate the rural section of the country. They will also need to simplify their programmes in order to make it more comprehensive.
FinTechs can also utilise various financial literacy initiatives undertaken by the Reserve Bank of India, the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the Insurance Regulatory, and Development Authority along with the government.
Next is to provide financial assistance to micro-entrepreneurship which will strengthen women’s role in the economy making them more financially independent. Absence of ample financial backing has often resulted in the near-withdrawal of women from various economic sectors in the country including agriculture.
Narrowing the gap of financial inclusion in India is going to take time. However, we need to start somewhere and the right time to start is now!