India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is due to inaugurate the country’s first ever state-owned bank for women in the western city for Mumbai.
The Bharatiya Mahila Bank, which will open with seven branches, will employ women, accept deposits from and lend mostly to women.
The bank plans to open 500 branches all over India by 2017.Just 26% of women in India have an account with a formal financial institution, compared with 46% of men.
That means an account in either a bank, a credit union, a co-operative, post office or a microfinance institution, according to a study by the World Bank.
Mr Singh will open the first branch in Mumbai’s Air India building on Tuesday.
“Both men and women can open accounts. But the bank will be predominantly for women in accepting deposits and giving loans. Our main objective will be to empower and educate women financially,” Usha Ananthasubramanian, chairperson of the bank told the BBC Hindi’s Rupa Jha.
The bank will also open branches in villages, where women face more problems opening an account.