Monica Bahl, Chief Executive Officer, Beauty & Wellness Sector Skill Council, is a service Professional with 25+ years of expérience in leadership roles involving strategic planning, organisation building, P&L Management, with 15 years of multi-functional expérience in Business Management & Development. A visionary with verifiable year after year progress in achieving growth objectives of the start-up projects & in making the projects successful. She holds a Master’s degree in CRM&E (Community Resource Management & Extension) from Lady Irwin Collège, Delhi University with distinction & 2nd position in the University. She has extensively worked across India, South East Asia & Gulf Region to establish & operate brands.
As Swami Vivekananda once said,“It is impossible to think about the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved. It is impossible for a bird to fly on only one wing.” In India, the largest democratic society of the world, where diversity rules across regions & states and where every region has varied socio-economic levels & age groups, financial literacy amongst genders in unequally distributed. Financial literacy is the ability to understand and effectively use financial skills, such as personal financial management, budgeting, saving and investing. Merely possessing money is not enough to make it sustainable. Financial literacy is the foundation of a relationship with money, and it is a lifelong journey of learning.
There have been numerous debates related to women's position in our society, their education, health, economic position, gender equality etc. In other words, women in India have always held a paradoxical position. Although in the modern society, women have slowly started recognizing their true potential and are breaking the glass ceiling in every field whether it is politics, sports, entertainment, literature, technology, yet there are certain areas where women are still lagging behind their male counterparts & one such area is “Financial Planning & Management”. On one hand, women are inherently better money managers when it comes to their household budgets and savings but on the other hand most of the women, including working women, seem to be comfortable in leaving their long-term finances and retirement planning to their fathers or husbands. In other words, the efficiency & efficacy they exhibit in managing home finances does not getting extended to their personal financial management. The major reason behind such issue is the lack of financial literacy among women. The survey by NCFE in 2015 exhibits that the financial literacy percentage among the women in India is quite low which needs special focus. Since women hold around 50% of the population of India, it would be unjust if only rest of the 50% will be taking the financial decisions.
The 5 major factors influencing the financial literacy among women in India are:
- Lack of independence
- Lack of basic education
- Lack of women-centric financial schemes
- Lack of financial resources
- Lack of accessibility
To boost financial literacy for women in India interventions at the level of government play a significant role. Financial literacy is the main tool for promoting financial inclusion in the country. In order to boost up the financial literacy, the government of India has also framed various schemes from time to time to encourage women to participate in the process of capital formation by encouraging them to take up savings and investments activities. There are several schemes introduced by the government which directly or indirectly promote the financial support and literacy among women. In India, a number of key programmes are promoting financial literacy for women, including a wide range of initiatives to help women become financially independent and aware of their financial rights and responsibilities. Following are a few key components of financial literacy programmes that every woman should know about and these schemes must be spread across the country: Financial Literacy and Credit Counselling Centres (FLCC): In order to spread the Financial inclusion in the country, the government of India has established FLCC to give free financial literacy coupled with education to the women & children in the country. Beti Bachao, Beti padhao Yojana: This is another scheme that aims towards the same and kanya Samridhi Yojana (Girl Child Prosperity Scheme) also ensures equitable share for a girl child in the resources and savings of a family in which She is generally discriminated against as compared to a male child. All these schemes also enncourage and involve women to understand their finances and gain literacy, financial freedom and support definitely paves pay for financial literacy for women.
Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana is another scheme that ensures the access to various financial services like availability of basic savings bank account, access to Need-based credit, remittances facility, insurance and pension to the excluded Sections i.e. weaker sections & low income groups for spreading financial knowledge so that financial inclusion can be made possible. Establishment of NCFE: The National Centre for Financial Education (NCFE), has been set up under the guidance of a technical group on financial inclusion and financial literacy of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC), which would cater to all sections of the population in the country. The main role of NCFE is to create financial education materials and conduct financial education campaigns across the country for all sections of the population, especially for women. This will improve their knowledge, understanding, skills and competence.
Although several initiatives have been taken by the government for spreading financial education across the country, yet there are several issues faced by the women due to which they are unable to acquire financial education. Therefore, following measures are suggested for enhancing financial literacy level among women in India:
- Training- Training is one of the best measures that should be used to inculcate the habit of learning financial terms among the women. Most of the women feel hesitant while dealing in financial matters because of lack of training. Hence, training programs should be organized specifically for women so as to make them more capable while dealing with their finances.
- Financial awareness and education- Women require multifaceted financial skills that are interwoven with their life, livelihood and businesses including skills in budgeting, savings, understanding financial services, debt management, financial negotiation skills and investments.
- Close proximity of the institute- Distance is another challenge faced by women as many financial institutions are located far away from where the women live. To deal with this challenge, banks, post offices, insurance companies etc. must open their branches nearby the residential accommodation.
- Better Technology- Use of technology is an effective tool to increase women’s financial literacy. Mobile technologies have become increasingly available to the poor and can improve access to financial information and training. e-learning can be another powerful educational tool for training, knowledge sharing, and international best practices
- Cultural change- The major problem being faced by Indian women is the male dominating society. “A lot of women don’t have reliable ways to learn about money…They just do what their families do” response of a participant of Literacy. Therefore, cultural change is needed to ensure wider financial literacy among women. Financial inclusion is the road that India needs to travel for becoming a global player Women would feel allured to indulge in financial activities if they will be offered financial services with more lucrative benefits such as low rate of interest on loans, high rate of Interest on deposits, tax benefits etc. Efforts must be made by the government & corporates to provide more benefits to women and open more opportunities which would encourage them to be financially independent