Financial literacy among women: Indian scenario

Shivleela Patil
Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Women make almost half of the population in India; therefore, to drive economic growth, it is imperative to empower them. However, according to a 2018 report by the World Economic Forum, India ranked 139th out of 144 countries, with a 66% gender gap, in terms of economic participation.

One of the biggest challenges of our country is women empowerment which can only be attained by making women educated,finance liberated and independent. True equality of rights and opportunities comes with financial empowerment. However, numerous social, economic and cultural barriers including the patriarchal legacy come in the way of financial empowerment of women in India.

Not just rural women, but women in urban economically well-off situations display lower financial literacy levels than men. With only 20 percent of women being financially literate, 77 percent women depend on their spouse or father for investment decisions.

A minimum basic level of financial literacy is essential for every woman so they can live life according to the own choices hence contributing the healthy and prosperous life of their family as a whole. Women require financial literacy and skills to manage their personal and household finances as well as to develop and manage entrepreneurial activities. Since women live longer than men, and have shorter working lives in paid employment and lower average incomes from which to save for old-age, they need to be sufficiently financially literate to manage the greater financial risks that they face.

They need to know what financial services and products are at their disposal and which ones are appropriate to them for their economic empowerment. Women have enormous potential to contribute toward the growth of economy hence a financial independent woman can be s a great source of economic development.

A financial independent individual is able to make intellectual judgements and take effective choices regarding the usage and management of money. It is very encouraging to see that today women are at par with men in all fields but when it comes to financial decision-making they are still dependant on the male members of their family.

Since ages this world has been a male dominated world where men run the society and women follow him. Women are the important constituent of our society; rather they are the basics of human kind. Its rightly said that if we make woman literate the whole family becomes literate. In 2020 the world literacy is 86.3%...among which men 90% and women just 82% are literate. The Indian scenario is bit grim where 75.3% male are literate and 53.7% % women are literate showing a gap of 21.6 percentage points between the sexes at the national level. The gap is more in the rural areas.

These women not only play an important role socially but economically too.
In India virtually women are main spender of family whereas men are the principal earner of the family. In earlier times status of the women was inferior compared to men as they are considered to be the perfect home maker in the world who is suppose to do the work of home and raise the family.

Though they had higher status in the scriptures, they are preached in different names like Goddess Durga, Goddess Saraswati, Laxmi and so on. In modern times too their condition is not improved much, they are always under the influence of parents before marriage and husbands after marriage. However the status of women are improving, they are given freedom & right such as freedom of expression & equality and as well as right to be educated. At this period various prestigious positions are held by women. However some problems such as domestic violence, dowry, sex selective abortion, are still prevalent.

One of the biggest problems of our nation is low literacy rate. When it comes to global financial literacy, 70% of women are illiterate compared with 65% of men. In India, the gap is wider, with 80% of women compared with 73% men.
Due to lack of basic education the numerical abilities among women are poor which restrict them to analyze the financial information properly caused poor financial planning which ultimately affects their saving & investment decisions and we'll being of the family as a whole. Morever lack of higher education among women creates problem in understanding the basic concepts of financial literacy computation of compound interest, analysis of inflation, risk and return trade off & portfolio diversification etc.

Another challenge to women is the "What if factor". Women's lack of confidence and knowledge with regards to money management affects their capability to achieve their financial potential. There are financial barriers also, for example money earned by women is treated as a additional money which was only meant for spending on the leisure of family, hence they cannot use their money on themselves as per their choices.

Sometimes poor infrastructure facilities create a hindrance for women. Due to lack of private transport and less reliance on public transport women are not able to attend the courses specially focused on financial education. Less avaliability of financial institutions and financial education centre is also one of the physical barriers for women.
More awareness programmes should be created at different levels especially rural and regionally backward areas regarding the basic banking services & their benefits.

The government should ensure the reach of their various promotional programmes like "Jan Dhan Yojna", Sukanya Samruddhi Yojna, Mudra Yojna",specially rural and tribal areas so that the purpose of organising these promotional programmes could be achieved which is to provide basic banking facilities on a large scale.

The government may form the team of women only who can help the women in those areas where womem can't go outside their homes to get any type of information; so they can also know the basic money management concepts and its importance as well as how these can help in their own financial condition and family too.
Women must have to grab the opportunity and use the financial information available, if they really want to improve their financial literacy. To get more financial knowledge they must attend more seminars, workshops, financial management courses in their nearest areas.

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Financial literacy among women is very low. It enables people to understand what is needed to achieve a lifestyle that is financially balanced, sustainable, ethical and responsible. Its directly related to wellbeing of an I and society as a financial literacy would help the women in making better financial decisions and helps in the utilisation of financial products and services in our country where poverty and unemployment are the major problems, it is very crucial to financially literate women to fuel engine of growth by providing opportunities to women to contribute to economic growth.
On this auspicious occasion of "International Women's Day" I urge to all my fellow women friends to invest In Your Financial Literacy.
The path to greater financial literacy begins by taking the first steps of knowing how much money is coming in, and doing your best to keep as much of it as possible for smart investments. From there, it is simply a matter of making an effort to research and learn about investing strategies that capture your attention. What are you waiting for? Get started today.

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