Narendra Modi’s government, BC Sakhi Yojana, could boost financial inclusion in the country and promote women’s employment. BC Sakhi Yojana is an arrangement whereby members of grassroots self-help groups are appointed as bank correspondents. This could further boost women’s participation in the workforce if the government reserves at least 30 percent of bank correspondent positions for women, SBI Research said in a report Tuesday.
Currently, in public sector banks, only 2 percent of women are bank correspondents, while in the private sector only 11.2 percent are women who work as bank correspondents, the research paper said. It could be a step in the right direction to increase the proportion of women working as bank correspondents, i.e. as external, non-bank intermediaries, to extend bank products and services to inaccessible hinterlands, a step in the to make the right direction.
As evidenced by data from Jan Dhan’s account holders, more than 55 percent of the account holders are women. However, another stark reality is that most of those accounts don’t work. So there remains a gap in financial inclusion. SBI Research said it believes that in addition to appointing Bank Sakhis as business correspondents (BCs), a policy should also be put in place to mandatorily recruit at least 30 percent of the total workforce as female BCs, particularly in locations where access to and use of accounts by women is low. The government launched the ‘Mission One GP One BC Sakhi’ program aimed at creating a pool of 1.25 lakh trained and certified female SHG members as BC Sakhi.
States in South and Northeast India outperform their Northern and Western counterparts in the number of female bank correspondents. For example, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh have more than 20 percent of BCs women, while states such as Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan have less than 9.5 percent of BCs.
The report said recruiting more female BCs could positively impact the financial take-up of about 25 crore female Jan Dhan account holders, as the “gender” of the agent, the face that connects the countless financial world with questionable, hesitant and even low basic principles of skills beneficiaries, becomes a decisively important factor to spread and deepen the pursuit of financial inclusion.