Is India working to increase women’s participation in the economy?

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Prahlad Sabnani

Retired Deputy General Manager,

State Bank of India

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50% of India’s population exists in the form of matriarchy. If we want to give wings to the country’s economic development, then it is necessary to empower this half of the population and put them into productive work. India has been making strides towards empowering the mother power faster since the Narendra Modi government came to power in 2014.

Many efforts are being made to increase women’s contribution to the economic sector in India. Special schemes have been implemented. Its satisfying results are now clearly visible. More recently, the ever-increasing contribution of mother power is clearly visible in the data related to the growth rate of deposits and loans released by the Reserve Bank of India.

It is a matter of great pleasure that the contribution of women in the annual growth in deposits of all commercial banks in the financial year 2022 has been 35 percent, which was only 15 percent in the financial year 2021, that is, in percentage, 20 points. A tremendous boom has been visible. A fact has also emerged that there has been a massive increase in women’s contribution, especially in rural areas. In the financial year 2022, the contribution of rural women to the annual rise in deposits in rural areas was 66 percent, while in the financial year 2020, it was only 37 percent. In fact, some state governments have decided to transfer the amount of assistance provided under various schemes to the bank accounts of women only, so the participation of women in the annual growth of deposits is increasing continuously.

“The role of regional rural banks is seen in the ever-increasing contribution of women in developing deposits in rural areas. Women contributed 60 percent of the annual growth of deposits in rural areas in regional rural banks between the financial year 2020 and the financial year 2022.This has become possible due to the opening of deposit accounts of all the women members of the Self Help Groups by these banks. Whereas earlier accounts of women members of SHGs were opened only by the president and secretary.

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Since the establishment of self-help groups is happening more, especially in rural and semi-urban areas, more and more deposit accounts of women are being opened by regional rural banks in these areas. Out of the total SHGs established in the country, 48% SHGs are working in rural areas, while 44% SHGs are working in semi-urban areas. Self Help Groups are not only working in agriculture but are also seen working in other micro activities without agriculture.

  • The highest increase in the contribution of women in the annual rise in deposits in the financial year 2022. The deposits for the financial year 2020 have happened in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
  • It is followed by Telangana, Karnataka, and Kerala. In contrast, in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, and the North-Eastern states, the participation of women in the annual increase in deposits has decreased.
  • This should be a matter of concern for these states. Additionally, these states should take measures immediately to increase women’s participation in these states.
  • According to the information released by the Reserve Bank of India, women’s contribution is 22.5 percent of the total loan amount disbursed on 31 March 2022 in all scheduled commercial banks in India.
  • The number of women loan account holders has reached 9.1 crores.

During this period, there has been a handsome increase in the number of women loan account holders in agriculture, industry, and trade. During the Corona epidemic, women entrepreneurs have taken many loans in the micro, small and medium industries because security was provided by the central government on these loans.

In the financial year 2014-15, out of the total loan amount disbursed in personal accounts, women were given 18.3 percent, which increased by 4.3 percent (430 points) by the financial year 2021-22, and now it has reached the level of 22.5 percent.

A total annual loan amount of Rs 7.8 lakh crore has been provided to 6.7 crore new women account holders during this period.

To provide facilities to Indian women, many schemes have been started in the country. Women’s pride has been enhanced by building more than 9 crore toilets in the country.

Many education schemes have been created for rural women. Good work is being done under the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme. Now the focus is on educating the girl child. The interest rate on education loans being provided to women is comparatively low. Through the post office, Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana has been started. The country has created an extensive scheme to care for women’s health. A Mudra Yojana has been launched, and about 75 percent of loans have already been provided.

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Efforts have also been made to reach out to women through self-help groups. Online Mahila E-Haat facility has been started to bring the goods produced by women to the market, where women can sell their products. Thousands on this site The products are available for sale, almost all the states have joined this scheme, and lakhs of customers visit this site continuously.

The skills of women are being developed under the stand-up scheme. Women are taught the work of sewing, weaving, embroidery, Zardari, etc. Women’s hostel groups have also been formed.

These women’s hostels in metros and cities provide accommodation to rural working women. Now, as a result of the above schemes implemented by the central government, the contribution of women to commercial banks’ deposits and loans is increasing rapidly.

Since 2014, especially after the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana, there has been a visible improvement in women’s economic empowerment in India. There is a steady increase in the number of women account holders in deposits and loans. Not only this, there is a continuous improvement in the participation of women in various special schemes implemented by the central government in the banks, finance, and economic sector, such as the Mudra loan scheme.

Apart from this, special schemes have also been started for women empowerment – Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, Ujjwala Yojana, scholarship scheme for women, etc. As a result, Stand-up India has seen an increase in women’s participation of 81 percent.

The Mudra loan scheme has seen a rise in women’s participation of 71 percent.

Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana has achieved 37 percent participation, and Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana has gained 27 percent participation.
6.36 crore women in India have joined Self Help Groups and Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana National Rural Livelihoods Mission.

In Self Help Groups, 8 to 10 women form a group together, develop their organization at the village level, also form a federation at the cluster level. These women take loans from banks through self-help groups for their livelihood and business expansion. One of the best features of these groups is that the loans taken by these SHGs from banks are found to be very small in non-performing assets. Women have also set up service centers in rural areas where work related to power tiller, agricultural equipment, soil testing, etc., is done by a group of women for the farmers.

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Rural India

Today, in the name of rural livelihood, auto rickshaws are being run by women in remote Naxal-affected areas. Also, women in remote rural areas are engaged in realizing financial inclusion. Today lakhs of women farmers are working in the field of agriculture as Krishi Sakhi. In the country’s rural areas, women play an essential role in developing these areas by working as Krishi Sakhi, Pashu Sakhi, Bank Sakhi, etc.

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