The hallmark of a great culture and civilisation is the respect and dignity that it affords to women. As Indian economy crosses new frontiers in terms of transformative growth and its impact on people, the participation of almost one-half of the country vis-à-vis the economy becomes critical.
From the point of view of empowering women, it is important to ensure financial inclusion for them. After all, financial independence is a key part of enabling women to make their choices.
Particularly in the last 4-5 years, the government and the policymakers have ensured that women are provided the necessary policy climate and institutional support in order to help them achieve greater success in business and entrepreneurial pursuits.
Financial inclusion for financial empowerment
The Jan Dhan programme has been a world-record creating financial inclusion initiative. Its success in ensuring access to bank accounts and banking services are well known and documented. However, a lesser known part of Jan Dhan’s success is the gender composition of its beneficiaries. Out of the total beneficiaries of the programme, a staggering more than half are women.
These are not merely bank accounts but come with a host of other benefits. However, the most important benefit they bring to the table is that of possibilities. For someone who has finally entered the formal financial system, savings, financial security as well as formal capital are doors waiting to be knocked.
At a time when PM Narendra Modi has shifted policy discourse from women’s development to women led development, the biggest institutional impetus that women can receive is access to finance to start businesses of their own. The government has sought to earnestly address this concern through several initiatives. Out of the Mudra Yojana beneficiaries who have been sanctioned loans, more than 70% of the beneficiaries are women who are getting affordable and collateral-free loans to start their own businesses.
Through all these multi-pronged measures to financially empower women, from financial inclusion to access to formal finance, from market access to maternity benefits, crores of women have been positively impacted. Therefore, the financial empowerment of Indian women in last few years has given a new meaning to the idea of women empowerment.
Blogged by Ashwin Agarkhed.