At first glance, India appears a picture of economic progress. Its economy is the seventh largest in the world, its startup ecosystem is generating international buzz, and its government has pioneered experimental programs that encourage bank account ownership. In 2011, only 53 percent of adults in India had a bank account. In 2017, that number reached 80 percent. The numbers indicate a positive trajectory for one of the world’s strongest emerging markets, but, despite the narrowing gender gap, women—especially underserved or low-income women—still lag behind men in critical ways.


India is experiencing strong economic growth with 7% growth in GDP

Rapidly growingurban populationprojected to growto 82% by 2030

65% of the population is less than 35 years of age—a large young population

Very low and declining female labor force participation


Compared to men


Restrictive social normscontinue to limit women’seconomic participation

If India achieves gender parity,it could add $770BN (18%) toGDP annually in 2025

Strong momentum on account opening driven by the government

Increase in women’s accountfrom 43% (2014) to


Gender gap has droppedfrom 18% (2011) to


Usage is the key issue with a 52% inactivity rate on women’s accounts

Women lag behind in phone ownership


Compared to men


Usage of digitalfinancial servicesis nascent

Only 2% of the population has a mobile money account (1% of women vs. 3% of men)

Only 4% of women use their mobile account

Financial Service Providers

Public sector banks hold the majority of the inactive PMJDY accounts Two new banking structures (small finance banks and payment banks) created to serve unbanked and underserved populations


Government has focused on creating a strong enabling environment for financial inclusion, but lacks a deliberate focus on women Reforms such as Aadhar National ID and the PMJDY accounts have increased access to accounts G2P (direct benefits transfer) programs from various ministries are being disbursed through PMJDY Digital is the new frontier, with a focus on interoperability (led by National Payments Council of India) and India Stack

107MM women remain unbanked but an even larger number of 170MM have a bank account with a 52% rate of inactivity



Leverage new banking structures (Small Finance Banks and Payment Banks) to increase engagement in savings and insurance offerings


Increase engagement with financial servicesthrough bank accounts especially PMJDY(government opened)


Embed deliberate gender focus acrossdiverse programs (govt, FSPs) on women’sfinancial inclusion

Women’s World Banking is working to better understand Indian women’s specific needs and where the interaction with financial institutions fails to drive usage of accounts. Women’s World Banking is establishing partnerships with financial service providers—e.g. small finance banks, commercial banks, and insurance companies—to design women-centered products, teach risk-mitigating strategies, and encourageasset building in order to financially include more women in India.

1.“Gender parity to boost IndiaGDP by 18% in ‘25,” The Timesof India. Jun 20, 2018.2. Global Findex Data, 20173. Global Findex Data, 2017