Women’s Day is round the corner. That we need a special day to celebrate women and their importance in our lives is a moot point. Because virtually every day is Women’s Day considering their innate ability to strike balance with lot of things. However, just we need a day to acknowledge the precious role of women in our lives, March 8 is probably emerged as one such day on which we can celebrate this strong force in our lives.
In the financial world too, women have carved a niche for themselves and created a meaningful presence for themselves. When I say that, I don’t intend to point out at some women who occupy top seats in corporate world or the positions of fund managers or the key positions in various financial institutions. But it is more to do with the all-pervaded rise and glory of women and the opportunity the women have and the way they can use it to their advantage. Such growth, importance and rise of women hold tremendous meaning for the society. Hence, it was hardly surprising when the finance minister P Chidambaram mentioned about the point of inclusive growth in his recent Budget speech. He has been vocal about the inclusive growth of India. In that process he also enlists various measures he has taken for the economic development of Indian women. Be it the step to form an all women bank or the gender budget of Rs 97134 crore, the finance minister has offered women a sweet deal. And this is not the first time the importance of the fairer sex and its constant growth has been recognised.
Be it income tax liability or insurance premium or the interest rates on certain loan product, women have been given preferential treatment. For example, men enjoy a no income tax threshold of Rs 1.8 lakh, while women do not pay any tax on an income up to Rs 1.9 lakh. In case of life insurance products and some critical illness cover insurance products, the premium rates applicable to women are lower than that applicable to men of the same age, thanks to the high life expectancy women enjoy. The government has been supporting women in their education and career also. Many state governments are known to offer incentives such as cash deposits in girl’s bank’s accounts for their attendance in school.
But there are conscious steps taken by the financial world, too. Public sector banks offer education loans to girl students on preferential basis along with a 50 basis points lower interest rate. There are designated loan schemes for women professionals and women entrepreneurs. Public sector banks have been taking their micro-finance initiatives through women self-help groups and now the finance minister has announced an all women bank- of the women, for the women and run by the women. This is a welcome step taken by the finance minister. Women should avail of this initiative. Hence, it is time women need to take note of all these realities of a fair deal to fair gender and plan your finances accordingly.