In Pakistan, despite a nearly equal male and female population, men dominate access to bank accounts.
The majority of financially marginalized women only have joint accounts with their spouses, leading to a significant disparity in the number of active accounts. While there are 70 million bank accounts maintained by men, only 14 million are run by women, meaning that just one in six bank accounts is operated by women.
Standard Chartered Bank (SCB), Private and Business Banking, Head of Consumer Saadya Riaz commented at the launch of women-specific banking:
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.
She noted that some women with joint accounts only use banking services, such as withdrawing cash through ATMs, for their monthly expenses. In efforts to empower women financially, many banks have already launched women-specific banking, as mandated by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).
At the gathering, SCB Pakistan CEO Rehan Shaikh mentioned that women’s participation in economic activities is high in other regional countries. Due to the increased availability of digital infrastructure during the Covid-19 pandemic, women’s participation in Pakistan has also improved.
However, he emphasized that many women still have not fulfilled their potential role in the economy. He stated that digital banking and the central bank will bring banking to a new level.
He added that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and President Arif Alvi’s vision of banking equality have given a much-needed boost to making banking services accessible to women.