Despite having almost equal male and female population in Pakistan, the use and access to bank accounts is dominated by men as a vast majority of financially marginalised women merely maintain joint bank accounts with their spouses.

There are around 70 million active bank accounts maintained by men compared to 14 million by women. Accordingly, only one in six bank accounts is run by a woman while the rest are operated by men.

“About 80% of women are maintaining joint accounts mostly with their husbands. The primary purpose of the accounts is to be operated by the survivors,” said Standard Chartered Bank (SCB), Private and Business Banking, Head of Consumer Saadya Riaz at the launch of women-specific banking titled “SC Sahar Women’s Account” on Monday.

She pointed out that a portion of the women having joint accounts utilised banking services like withdrawing cash through ATMs only for “monthly spending purpose”.

Keeping in view the women’s financial empowerment, a large number of banks have already started women-specific banking since the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) made it mandatory for them.

Addressing the gathering, SCB Pakistan CEO Rehan Shaikh cited that women’s participation stood significantly high in economic activities in regional countries.

Recently, Pakistani women’s participation has enhanced due to the availability of digital infrastructure during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, a large number of them are yet to play their due role in economic wellbeing, he highlighted. “Digital banking … (and) the central bank will take banking to the next level.”

He further stated that the SBP and Pakistan President Arif Alvi’s vision and banking-on-equality policy gave much-needed push to making banking services available to the women.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2023.

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