New state initiative to provide loans and financial security for women

05 December 2013 - Which Way To Pay

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India opens first state-owned bank for women to strengthen their financial security and provide loans

India has opened its first state-owned bank with a focus on lending to women and increasing their financial security. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh opened the Bharatiya Mahila Bank in Mumbai on the birth anniversary of India's only female Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. The bank is known as Indian Women's Bank.

Seven branches nationwide to provide loans for women

The bank, which has seven branches which operate nationwide, focuses on providing loans to women and strengthening their financial security. While this is the first such state initiative, there are existing co-operative banks run for and by women, such as the Mann Deshi Mahila Sahakari Bank in the western state of Maharashtra.

"The sad reality is that women in India face discrimination and hardship at home, at school, at their place of work and in public places," Mr Singh said at the launch. "Their social, economic and political empowerment remains a distant goal." She continues to say "the setting up of the Bharatiya Mahila Bank is a small step towards the economic empowerment of women."

Women to be provided with loans and financial security

Although men will be able to open accounts, Bharatiya Mahila Bank aims to employ mostly female staff. The bank's Delhi branch and corporate office are due to open after state elections in December this year. It is due to have 25 branches by next March and 771 branches over a seven-year period. With its tagline "empowering women, empowering India", the bank initiative was announced in February this year when India was still recovering from the fatal gang-rape of a student in New Delhi.

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