RBI’s ED Anil Kumar Sharma said the gender gap in account ownership has improved in the global economy with credit outstanding to women entrepreneurs in India up to over Rs 8 lakh crore. However, women still lag behind in mobile ownership.
Greater gender equity in the financial sector is important for the Indian economy to achieve the $5-trillion target, Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) Executive Director Anil Kumar Sharma said on Monday, November 14.
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Financial institutions find it more comfortable to deal with men-owned enterprises and that is why new initiatives have women at the centre, he said while addressing the Sa-Dhan National Conference on Financial Inclusion 2022 in Delhi.
RBI’s ED said that the gender gap in account ownership has improved in the global economy and added that credit outstanding to women entrepreneurs in India has increased to over Rs 8 lakh crore.
However, Sharma pointed out that while the digital medium can be leveraged on both the demand and supply sides of finance, the gender gap still persists in mobile ownership. “Affordability of mobile ownership is closely linked to financial empowerment, which explains women’s lower share,” he said.
He added that while banking correspondents (BCs) can make it easier for women to avail of financial services, less than 10 percent of BCs are women.
The RBI, therefore, is in the process of reviewing the whole BC framework as it has not delivered as per expectations. BCs are the short answer to last-mile connectivity for financial literacy in terms of access, usage and quality.
But due to various factors, including regulatory restrictions, and operational impediments, they could not deliver the way RBI had expected from them, he said.
"We are in the process to review this entire BC framework, the role of corporate BCs, the services which they offer, what are the issues with them and the low level of women participation etc.
"These are the issues which we are engaged with (right now) and we will come up with a comprehensive set of regulations on how to revamp this particular framework, this can help us achieve what we intend to achieve," said the official.
Sharma added that RBI, along with other regulators, has prepared a financial literacy programme for school education boards, and all states except for three have agreed to include it in their curricula.
"If we could inculcate basic financial literacy in school education, then that would … expand financial literacy in the country," he said.