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Your Money: Bridging the gender gap in wealth creation

By Shailja Agarwal

With growing disposable income and participation in money matters, the ultimate barrier to women’s liberation is unravelling fast. This process is amply aided by awareness campaigns by the government, societal changes, technology, customised schemes and the ever-growing desire of women for financial independence. The good news is that there are a number of privileges in the world of finance and investing that are available to women only.

The growing participation of women in the workforce has also made them vulnerable to several health risks that are peculiar to their ilk. Many insurers have floated health insurance plans that address their typical needs. Apart from the usual comprehensive health insurance covers, there are special covers available for maternity care, assaults and burns, etc. Insurers often offer discounts in premium or additional sum assured for women policyholders.

Lower rates on home loans
Most banks offer additional 0.05%-0.1% rebate in interest rates on home loans to women borrowers. Though the rebate may look paltry, this small concession can make a decent difference in EMIs and, in turn, the total interest outgo in the entire loan tenure. And this is not all. The eligibility for women borrowers is often simpler, stamp duties lower and repayment period longer too. The government also extends subsidy benefits under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana when a woman is a co-owner.

Did you know that there are special benefits for women even when they open a savings bank account? These include free cheque books, smaller minimum balance, free insurance covers, discounts in select courses and locker rentals. Check out the offerings by ICICI Bank, IndusInd Bank, IDBI Bank and many more.

Customised options
Women entrepreneurs taking a business loan also have a number of customised options. Schemes like SyndMahila Shakti (Canara Bank), Shringaar/Annapurna (SBI), Shakti (Bank of Baroda) and Cent Kalyani (Central Bank of India) and, of course, MUDRA. These loans offer many benefits including concessional interest rates and relaxed eligibility criteria. Banks also offer credit card products especially designed for women.

There are several other financial schemes such as Sukanya Samridhi designed to help women in the long run for their financial independence and wealth creation. A parent can open a Sukanya Samriddhi account of a girl child below the age of 10 years. The minimum amount of deposit in a financial year is Rs250 and maximum deposit is Rs 1.5 lakh. The account can be closed on maturity, which is after 21 years from the date of account opening or at the time of marriage of the girl child after attaining age of 18 years.

The author is an associate professor, Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad

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