The first all-women Bharatiya Mahila Bank with a corpus of Rs.1,000 crore was launched on Tuesday, in a pioneering initiative to empower women.
Coinciding with the 96th birthday of late Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh inaugurated the first of its seven branches at a function in Mumbai. The ceremony was attended by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, coalition leaders Sharad Pawar and Farooq Abdullah, along with Finance Minister Chidambaram.
Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan and Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan were also present.
Speaking at the launch, the PM emphasised that a lot more needed to be done to empower women and ensure their safety. “We have strengthened the law to provide harsher punishment for sexual offences against women, but much more needs to be done. It is a fact that access to finance and banking not only empowers women, but also broadens the social base of development,” he said.
The bank begins operations with seven branches. It will be a universal bank, but will primarily serve women, taking care of their special needs and requirements. The number of branches will go up to 25 by March-end.
The PM said the bank was only “a small step” in the direction of empowering women.
Sonia Gandhi recalled the contribution of Indira Gandhi towards poverty alleviation and women empowerment.
Chidambaram said that the board of the Mahila Bank was constituted with the induction of eight women members. This will be the first all women board of a PSU bank.