Banking has emerged as one of the most attractive fields of employment for women due to security, prestige and financial rewards.
Commercial banks, development banks and finance companies have employed about 54,533 people of which 21,353 are female – 39.16 per cent of the total employment. Male employees in banks and financial institutions (BFIs) number 33,180 – about 60.84 per cent, according to the statistics of the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB).
Banking industry in Nepal has created more than 75,400 jobs by mid-July 2021.
Class ‘D’ microfinance institutions have employed 20,872 people, but gender segregated data is unavailable.
Barsha Shrestha, who was one of the foremost female managers, said that the banking jobs are secure, prestigious and financially rewarding that other facilities like vehicle and concessional loans enhance the charm.
“For women, it’s about independence and competition,” she said, adding, “Reservation seats are seen as less respectable than competitive ones.”
Nepal Bankers Association (NBA) said that although the number of employees went down in commercial banks in the last fiscal 2020/21 to 40,446 against 44,502 of the previous fiscal 2019/20, the ratio of male and female workers has remained almost same.
There were 17,300 female employees in July of 2020 in commercial banks, accounting for 38.63 per cent of the total employees. That number went down to 15,625 (38.87) a year later.
Merger and acquisition of BFIs and austerity measures taken by the banks in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic led to reduction in the number of employees. According to the annual Current Macroeconomic and Financial Situation report of the central bank, the number of BFIs declined to 133 by the end of last fiscal from 155 a year earlier.
Likewise, the number of branches of the development banks and financial companies decreased to 1023 from 1029 and 222 from 243 respectively in a year. However, the number of branches of the commercial banks increased to 4753 by mid-July of 2021 from 4436 in mid-July of 2020.
Executive Director of the Banks and Financial Institutions Regulation Department at the central bank and its spokesperson Dev Kumar Dhakal said that favourable work environment in the banking sector and high level of integrity in women has contributed to the increased number of female workers in the industry.
A notable progress
Despite any reservation and quota system in the private BFIs, the number of women in them is ever growing. It means they are competitive and skilful, this is a notable progress, said Dhakal.
“There is 50-50 scenario in commercial banks at the entry level while the number of managers is steadily increasing,” said Bhuwan Dahal, President of the NBA and Chief Executive Officer of Sanima Bank. He maintained that the banking industry was one of the best sectors for women to work.
Virtually all banks have female faces at the front desks and counters.
Meanwhile, the government-run banks are witnessing a significant increase in women employees in recent years due to the attraction of women towards the job and reservation system.
CEO of Nepal Bank Limited, Krishna Bahadur Adhikari, said that the share of women in the banks has crossed 40 per cent. Facilities, including leave and health treatment, have attracted more women to banking.
Women are reliable and have more patience than men in most cases, making them suitable for the positions needing to deal directly with the customers, say most of the bank managers.
Shrestha, who had served as the Deputy CEO of erstwhile Clean Energy Development Bank (CEDB), a joint venture with Dutch Development Bank (FMO), which later merged with NMB Bank, said that increased level of education, skills and confidence in women were key to their progress in banking sector.
She added that most of the women work for the company rather than for themselves. “When you work for yourself, you need to flatter your seniors, but when you work for the company, you enhance your credibility and expertise,” said Shrestha.
Fight for progress
Although banking sector has contributed to the gender equality in terms of employment and economic empowerment of women, most of the managerial posts have been occupied by men.
Dahal said that since attraction of women to the banking sector was seen only lately, they would be able to climb the managerial ladder in the next few years.
Likewise, Shrestha said, “However, women must fight their way to the managerial positions. If you want to make an equal progress, you must fight an equal fight.”
In contrast to many women in the business, Shrestha doesn’t want a special policy for females and says that such policies might result in envy from male colleagues and decreased confidence in women employees.
Currently, the central bank has the first ever female Deputy Governor Nilam Dhungana while Anupama Khunjeli leads Mega Bank Limited as the first female CEO in the commercial bank. Samata Pant (Bhatta) serves as the Acting Deputy CEO of Nepal Bank and Raveena Desraj Shrestha is Deputy CEO of Mega Bank.
Policies for women
Nepal has a significant gender gap. In terms of economic participation and opportunity, it is ranked 101 out of 153 countries surveyed by the World Economic Forum in 2020. It is ranked at 133 position in terms of educational attainment.
Likewise, the 2018 Economic Survey had found that women earn less than their male counterparts even in same positions.
Average monthly income of a male manger is about Rs. 32,000 compared with Rs. 25,500 for female manager. It is interesting to note that the payment gap is significantly high in professional positions.
However, the Fifteenth Plan (2019/20-2024/25) has six strategies to achieve substantial gender equality by ensuring equal and meaningful participation of women. It aims to formulate sectoral policies, acts and programmes related to gender equality, adapt a gender responsive governance system in the governments of all levels, and develop a database to measure gender equality and empowerment.
Similarly, the Sustainable Development Goals also include a target to ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal oportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in policical, economic and public life.
Source : TRN,