Women & Banking: India’s financial inclusion suffers from a gender gap
By Renu Kohli
The World Bank recently published the results of its Global Findex Survey (2017), the third in the series from 2011. Findex surveys provide valuable information on financial inclusion and behaviours across countries. For India, the acceleration in account ownership (Jan Dhan Yojana) has already been highlighted, as has the extremely low utilisation: 80% Indian adults now have a bank account—27 points higher than the 53% estimated in Findex 2014 round, which showed 17 points addition to the 2011measure (35%). The fast progress is accompanied by higher inactivity as 48% of accounts saw no deposits or withdrawals in 2017, compared to 44% in 2014. This gap in access and usage is even more telling for females, where evidence indicates inclusion policies providing entry to formal finance fail to bridge gender inequalities, for which specific, broader intervention efforts are needed.
Findex 2017 estimates that 77% of Indian women now own a bank account against respective 43% and 26% in 2014 and 2011. On this basic measure of financial inclusion, females are more financially included than before. The male-female difference, or the gender gap, in account ownership narrowed to 6.4 percentage points in 2017; it was 19.8 in 2014.
This is the best it gets, however. A bank account is the gateway to other financial services, but doesn’t automatically translate into actual use of or access to these. What is the depth of female financial engagement once the entry barriers are overcome?
Photo courtesy of Peter Haden.