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Updated December 28th, 2023 at 19:07 IST

India has long road for financial inclusion for women: Women World’s Banking

Banks can unlock Rs 25,000 crores in deposits if low-income women initiate a habit of small-scale savings

Gauri Joshi
Financial inclusion
Financial inclusion | Image:Financial inclusion
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The representation of women in financial inclusivity is less than 14 per cent despite the country having a robust digital public infrastructure (DPI), a senior executive of Women’s World Banking - South Asia said.

Attributing the same to a lack of smartphones, access to internet, internal barriers as well as trust in women borrowers, Kalpana Ajayan, Regional Head, Women’s World Banking- South Asia also spoke to Republic Business on the lack of handholding on platforms.

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“Even today, women need their husband, son or a male member of the family to help in onboarding on fintech platforms. There is a lack of handholding for women’s familiarisation on these platforms, or a women centric design.”

Notably, the World Bank has lauded the transformative impact of DPIs in India over the past decade under the Central Government, as part of its document on the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion.

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Banks can unlock Rs 25,000 crores worth in deposits if even 10 crore low-income women initiate a habit of small-scale savings, a report by the WWB suggests.

A women centric design, which ensures that the product and distribution makes business sense, is the solution as per Ajayan.

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“The financial sector needs more women in  the workforce, in leadership positions and in boards,” Ajayan said, as the basic framework involves inclusion as the first step for empowerment.

WWB has a metric called the Fintech Diversity Scorecard which evaluates the gender diversity of staff at financial platforms, and provides recommendations for inclusion.

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Among the immediate changes required for women is a digital as well as credit footprint for access, with the change boiling down to material, cognitive, relational and perceptive change in the society.

“For women to be truly financially equal, they must engage in the system through appropriate products like savings to credit and fintech platforms,” she said.

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However, fintechs are “not looking at” the pre-existing gender-specific data despite women being half of our populace.

Highlighting the importance of guarding data amid DPI growing, Ajayan said women must be aware on the dangers of data misuse.

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“Even as the RBI has norms for consumer protection, women must educate themselves on the dangers of misusing data,” she said.

 

 

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Published December 28th, 2023 at 18:08 IST

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