India's women population is showing its saving streak with the share of women customers in total bank deposits continuing to increase to 20.5% during the year ended March 2023 (FY23), according to the Reserve Bank of India's latest report. Of the overall individual deposits, women account for 39% (or ₹37 lakh crore), of which senior women citizens (age 60 and above) amounted to ₹13.2 lakh crore, that is, 36% of the individual women deposits and 7.2% of the overall deposits during the year. State-wise per capita change in women deposits shows that Goa, Karnataka, Haryana, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Maharashtra have witnessed more than ₹10,000 change in the last five years. Interestingly, the overall deposits of scheduled commercial banks increased by 10.2%, driven by incremental annual deposits of ₹17.6 lakh crore. However, the share of individuals in total deposits declined during the year.
As per the central bank, the rise in female savers has been on account of the government's efforts towards women empowerment. Overall, the per capita women deposits increased by ₹4,618 over the past five years with rural areas proving to be a major source of women deposits. Post pandemic, the share of women deposits in overall rural deposits has increased to 30% in FY23 from 25% in FY19 (pre-pandemic year). Further, of the incremental deposits between FY19 and FY23, women deposits accounted for 26% at the all-India level. The share is again highest in case of rural areas, with women deposits accounting for 41% of the incremental rural de-posits during the same period. As expected, regional rural banks continue to be the major contributors in increased women deposits, accounting for 50% share of incremental deposits at RRBs between FY19 and FY23.
In fact, the share of women in credit to individuals, too, has increased by 4.7% over the past nine years from 18.3% in FY15 to 22.9% as of FY23. The data further shows that incremental credit of ₹10.3 lakh crore has been disbursed to 7.6 crore new women customers during the period. Sector-wise credit to women customers indicates that credit has increased in almost all major sectors such as agri, industry (manufacturing) and trade during FY19-23. However, the share of women in the personal loans segment has remained the same. Incrementally, the share of credit to women in total credit has increased to 25.4% during FY19-FY23, with agriculture, education and trade accounting for the most. The Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana targets the financial inclusion of women by providing collateral-free loans up to ₹10 lakh to small and micro enterprises.
As per research by SBI's economic research wing, a state-wise rate of participation of women (women person-days out of the total in percentage) under MGNREGS during FY23 indicates almost all major states have women participation of more than 33%, in some of the states it was less than national average of 57.4%. In fact, 55% of total Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) beneficiaries are women. State-wise data of women beneficiaries (by extrapolating the Mar-21 numbers), when plotting against the MGNREGS women participation suggests that in southern states both the shares are more than the national average. Further, in states where women's participation in MGNREGA is low, women beneficiaries in PMJDY are also low. This indicates a positive correlation between two modes of women empowerment. Thus, efforts should be made to include more women in MGNREGS so that all women are brought under the formal banking system, states the research.
Even as the RBI stats show a different picture, as per the Findex survey 2021, of the women-owned bank accounts in India, more than 32% are inactive. The gender gap in account inactivity is the highest in the country at 12 percentage points.