National Family Health Survey-5: Jump in women using bank accounts, phones

🔴 The findings, along with data on women owning a house or land, and those owning mobile phones, offer significant insights into economic and social status of women, and their role in decision-making, in Indian households.

All 14 states surveyed in the second phase of National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5) reported a significant jump over the last five years in the number of women having a bank account that they themselves use.

The all-India figures show close to 80% women now have a bank account that they use — from 53 per cent in 2015-16 to 78.6 per cent in 2019-21.

The findings, along with data on women owning a house or land, and those owning mobile phones, offer significant insights into the economic and social status of women, and their role in decision-making, in Indian households.

While the low tariffs since late 2016 saw mobile phone use among women surging across states, Haryana and Chandigarh saw a drop in the share of women owning a mobile phone that they used themselves. In Haryana, for example, at 50.4 per cent in 2020-2021, a smaller proportion of women used mobile phones, a slight dip from 50.5 per cent in 2015-16. The Union territory of Chandigarh also saw a decline in the percentage of women owning mobile phones — from 74.2 per cent in 2015-16 to 70 per cent now.

The all-India figure for phone use among women went up from 45.9% in 2015-16 to 54% in 2019-21.

The data show that among the 14 states, barring five states/UTs — MP, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Delhi NCT and Puducherry — land/house ownership among women went up.

Punjab and Uttar Pradesh bucked the trend witnessed in large agrarian states of low land ownership among women.

In Punjab, for example, among the women surveyed, 63.5 per cent owned a house or a land (alone or jointly) in 2020-21, compared to 32.1 per cent in 2015-16.

In Uttar Pradesh, another large agrarian state, the share of women owning land/house went up — from 34.2 per cent in 2015-16 to 51.9 per cent in 2020-2.

But in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the other two big agrarian states, land/house ownership among women either fell or failed to show much improvement in this period.

In Madhya Pradesh, 39.9 per cent of the women surveyed owned a house or a land in 2020-21, compared to 43.5 per cent in 2015-16. In Rajasthan, the number was 26.6 per cent for 2020-21, only a marginal improvement from 24.1 per cent in 2015-16.

While the survey reflects the percentage of women who own land or houses, it does not shed light on the average size of women’s land holdings.

On the metric of women having bank accounts that they themselves use, there’s been a pronounced surge across the surveyed states, with Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Puducherry, and Punjab topping the list.

In Madhya Pradesh, the percentage of women having a bank account increased to 74.7 per cent in 2020-21 from 37.3 per cent in 2015-16, while in Jharkhand it increased to 79.6 per cent from 45.1 per cent in 2013-16, the survey showed.

Bankers and researchers attribute the jump in bank account use to the role of the account opening drive carried out under the PM Jan Dhan Yojana over the last seven years, which enabled women and households to come within the banking fold.

“The significant jump in women having a bank account (more than 80 per cent) over the 5-year period ended FY21 is a reflection of the growing women empowerment and thereby a say in the household’s financial decision-making. Interestingly, more than half of the Jan Dhan accounts have been opened by women and even more than half of the workers on the recently launched E-Shram portal are women,” said Soumya Kanti Ghosh, Group Chief Economic Adviser, State Bank of India.

The NHFS-5, published by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, captured trends in 14 states and UTs as a part of the second phase of the survey. These are Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chandigarh, National Capital Territory of Delhi and Puducherry. The remaining states and UTs were surveyed in the first phase, the results of which were released in December 2020.

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