Financial inclusion and women empowerment (Economic Times)
In 2014, the Bhamashah initiative was refurbished with a broader coverage of gender empowerment, financial inclusion and family-based benefits. It now provides end-to-end delivery system for individuals and various family-based benefits of the government’s social welfare schemes — like the PDS, pension funds, health insurance, MNREGA and scholarships — through a centralised e-government platform by leveraging the enhanced electronic infrastructure of the state.
These transfers are made to the bank account of the woman of the house through the Bhamashah smart card, which also provides biometric identification of family members. The card is also a co-branded debit card with the participation of several banks.
The merits of financial inclusion are deeply rooted in citizen empowerment. Access to credit is a critical link between economic opportunities and outcomes. By empowering individuals and families to cultivate economic opportunities, financial inclusion can be a powerful agent for strong and inclusive growth. With women constituting half the population, their equal participation in society is imperative for sustainable development.
One of the important assertions Amartya Sen makes in “Development as Freedom” is that empowering women in developing countries through education and financial inclusion is a tried-and-true way toward economic development for a country as a whole.
He won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1998 for his contributions to welfare economics.
Biometric technologies can help make inclusion programs more efficient and more affordable.