Role of Banking Sector in Women Empowerment

Banking sector has been at the forefront of women empowerment moment through pioneering efforts like financial inclusion and economic independence of women that has helped them achieve socio-economic equality in the Indian society. Let’s look at some of the important women-centric bank schemes available for women.

Created On: Oct 4, 2018 14:24 IST
Modified On: Oct 4, 2018 14:24 IST
Role of Banking Sector in Women Empowerment
Role of Banking Sector in Women Empowerment

Women Empowerment has been a vital issue that has come into the limelight in past few years. Despite numerous  government schemes and policy decision, women in India still remain deprived of equal opportunities in terms of education, employment and skill development. Although, there have been significant improvements in this field especially in urban centres, women in rural areas are still underprivileged from any such advantages. Many social scientists have derived that economic independence plays a vital role in ensuring that women get equal opportunities in the society and thereby enjoy and benefit from their other rights. This makes women empowerment as much of an economic issue as a social one.

Banks & Women Empowerment

Banks are one of the primary pillars of Indian economy and, therefore, are an ideal agent to play a pivotal role as far as  women empowerment is concerned. Public sector banks, which have their presence even in the remote corners of the country, have traditionally been first and foremost support structure for women as far as their financial needs are concerned. Be it schemes related to educational financing at a very early age or financial assistance for setting up livelihood or stable source of income in youth; banks have always played a very important role in enhancing financial inclusion of women in the Indian economy. All major public sector banks have announced women centric and women only financing and loan schemes that offer financing opportunities at concessional interest rates and relaxed loan rules.

Despite, all the best efforts from the government and PSU Banks, women still remained away from banks and its services due to social and cultural barriers that prevent women from access to banking services. If we look at the comparative statistics regarding women in the banking sector, it paints a rather gloomy picture. With women holding only 24% of total operational bank accounts in the country and 28% of total deposits; the participation of women in the banking sector is definitely not at an acceptable level. Especially when it comes to credit supplied, only 12% of individual bank loan accounts belonged to women, which clearly shows a disparity of access to banking services between the two genders.

Salary of Bank Employees after 11th bipartite Settlement

Bhartiya Mahila Bank – A step in the right direction!

To spur interest of women (especially in rural India) in availing banking services, the government of India in November 2013 took a great step of setting up the first public sector bank solely for women. With setting up of the Bhartiya Mahila Bank (BMB); a new era has begun in the Banking service sector. BMB will provide financial services predominantly to women and women Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and aims to enhance participation of women in economic activity. BMB has the unique motto of ‘Empowering Women, Empowering India’, which clearly showcases the intent behind this organization. The situation is surely improving, but not at a healthy rate, which is required to ensure equal participation and contribution of women in the Indian economy. However, the Competition Commission of India has approved the amalgamation of Bharatiya Mahila Bank into State Bank of India (SBI) in November 2016.

BMB became part of SBI on 1 April 2017, catapulting the country’s largest lender to among the top 50 banks in the world.

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Below, we have mentioned all major women-centric banking schemes that are aimed at enabling and empowering women financially:

Bank Name

Scheme Name

Scheme Description


Punjab National Bank

PNB Mahila Udyam Nidhi Scheme

Offers financial support to micro and small scale sector and industries owned and managed by women

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PNB Mahila Samridhi Yojna

Finances infrastructural purchases for small business units like tailoring shops, boutiques, telecom agencies, beauty parlours, and Internet browsing centres

Scheme For Financing Crèches

Finances equipment purchase for crèche development; aids in purchase of stationery, refrigerators and water filters, etc

PNB Kalyani Card Scheme

Offers working capital credit for agricultural activities/ misc farm/non- farm activities to both literate and illiterate women dwelling in rural / semi-urban areas. Would include farmers, landless labourers, agricultural labourers, tenant farmers, share croppers, lessee farmers, etc

PNB Mahila Sashaktikaran Abhiyan

Offers low-interest rate of 0.25% in Non-Priority Sector Advances and 0.50% in Priority Sector advances & fee waiver of 50% for women

Punjab and Sind Bank

P&S Bank Udyogini Scheme

Offers loans to women entrepreneurs on liberal terms for direct agricultural activities, Tiny SSI industry units, business enterprises, retail traders, professional employment and self-employment training

Click here

Oriental Bank of Commerce

Scheme for Professional & Self-Employed Women

Provides financial assistance and long term loans for purchase of fixed assets to women

Click here

Scheme for Beauty Parlours / Boutiques / Saloons and Tailoring

Financial assistance is offered or small scale business units for the purchase of tools/equipment/furniture & fixture, shop etc.

Click here

Oriented Mahila Vikas Yojana

Need-based loans are provided to women entrepreneurs

Click here

Dena Bank

Dena Shakti Scheme for Women Entrepreneurs

Offers financing schemes to women entrepreneurs handling agricultural & allied businesses, small scale industries, retail trade, micro credit, education and housing

Click here

Bank of Baroda

Akshaya Mahila Arthik Sahay Yojna

Provides financial assistance to women entrepreneurs working in retail trade and agricultural sectors

Click here

Andhra Bank

Mutual Credit Guarantee Scheme for Women

Offers credit facilities to women entrepreneurs up to Rs 1 Lakh without collateral security with exception of retail sector

Click here

State Bank of India

Stree Shakti Package

Offers special concessions and privileges for financing facilities to business units in which women entrepreneurs hold more than 50% of share capital

Click here


Marketing Fund for Women

Offers financial assistance for marketing of products manufactured by women entrepreneurs in both domestic as well as international markets

Click here

Karur Vysya Bank

KVB Mahila Swarna Loan

Instalment loan to working women for the purchase of gold / diamond ornaments / silver wares. The loan is offered at concessional rates

Click here

Bank of India

Star Mahila Gold Loan Scheme

Offers loan facilities to working / non-working women for purchase of Gold ornaments, preferably hallmarked, from reputed Jewellers and/or Gold coins of Bank of India

Click here

 As per the above table, it is clear that all major banks, especially public sector banks have started implementing targeted policies for women empowerment including an announcement of several important women centric and women only financial schemes and making banking services more accessible in rural areas.

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