The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) has helped motivate many women to open their bank accounts, but there is still a large number of Indian women who don’t have access to banks. Since the PMJDY scheme was not gender-centric, it could not help eliminate the gender gap in financial inclusion (basically about having bank accounts in India). But among the women who do have bank accounts, 62% either don’t have access to it or are not frequent users.
A study by US-based Omidyar Network has found that PMJDY has reduced the gender gap by 6%. Since the scheme was launched in 2014, around 83 million more bank accounts of women opened by 2015, compared to 2013. So the number of women not having bank accounts reduced from 363 to 280 in the span of two years. And the total number of accounts opened through PMJDY is 247.4 million.
The gender disparity in savings account came down from 17% to 11% between 2013 and 2015. So financial inclusion in India increased by 20% between 2014 and 2015 as found by Omidyar, a philanthropic investment company that invests both in profit-making and non-profit companies.
Omidyar’s report comes to the conclusion that one in four women who don’t have bank accounts around the world are Indian and the global gender gap is about 14%. While there is an increase in the number of first time bank users in the country, the gender gap still remains in financial inclusion.
“We have 280 million people who still don’t have access to bank accounts. Even though the access has improved, the usage of bank account is low,” said Roopa Kudva, a partner at Omidyar Network, to Livemint.
She added, “When it comes to gender divide, only 38% of women use their bank accounts in three months, while it is 51% for men in the same period. It is the same in income and education level.”
The investment company did a quantitative and qualitative research through information available in the public domain between 2012 and 2016 and it will go on till the end of this year. The report suggests that to decrease financial exclusion of women, there must be access points available like community schools and hospitals and facilitating women’s networks to drive financial and digital literacy.
A recent World Bank report, Global financial-inclusion 2011-14, found out that 700 million adults across the world opened a bank account for the first time in this time period and the percentage of women account-holders increased by 14%.
The study suggests that women must not just open bank accounts but also need to become regular users for them to improve financial inclusion among the gender. The PMJDY helped successfully in opening accounts of millions of people. Now financial literacy will help the public to understand how they can use bank accounts to their benefit.
Picture credit- The Wire