Women and accessibility to financial services

Alexander Hamilton once said, “Banks are the happiest engines that ever were invented for creating economic growth”. Finance designs the contours of the economic horizon.

Last year in November, Prime Minister Imran Khan permitted a five-year strategy to improve National Financial Inclusion Strategy ( NFIS ) as part of the PTI government’s agenda. On March 6, Finance Minister Asad Umar announced the government’s commitment to boosting access to formal financial services by top priority groups.

The gender-wise distribution of the gross loan portfolio of the SBP shows that women got 19pc of microfinance loans while male borrowers taken 81pc of loans. Contrary to microfinance, only 3pc of SME loans are offered to women while 97pc borrowers are men.

An overwhelming amount of women work in agriculture and yet only 4pc of gross agriculture advances are offered to them.

Women branches establish by some of the banks are a great initiative. The SBP and other regulators should do this feature a portion of their branch licence policy for improved financial inclusion.

Women are often unaware of the available financial services. This is true in not only far-flung rural areas, but also urban centres. The government will have to take away legislative and policy-level hiccups and initiate financial literacy programmes at school level for girls.

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