“Nupur Verma is single mother living in Delhi. She works as head nurse at AIMS and is qualified for a home loan as per the bank eligibility norms. But she was asked to bring an earning co-applicant. Since she doesn’t have any family except her mother and child who are dependent on her, this was impossible.”
This is not an isolated incident. Gender discrimination and gender inequality is not a something that is limited to far-flung villages in UP or Bihar. It is ironic that in a nation that boasts of the most powerful female political entity, some self-made female multi-billionaires, and many prolific women CEOs in international business map, gender inequality that is to say women have always had a raw deal.
Studies show that this lopsidedness may have actually brought down the country's fiscal growth by nearly 4 percent per year over the last decade. This is why women form the biggest minority group in India. This is why women have access to ‘privileges’ like reservation and subsidized schemes and policies. Banking is just another field where such lopsided trends have to be smoothed down. In a similar fashion, many bankers and financiers offer low-interest home loans for women.
Roadblocks to jump over when a woman apply for home loan:
- Even in the 21st century, there is an alarming disparity between the pay a man gets and a woman gets for the same job. And banks and financiers disburse loans only to those with consistent and steady job.
- Single women, widows and single mothers find it all the more difficult in spite of high paying jobs though there is a noticeable paradigm shift. But our country has a long way to go before these biases and grievances stay put in history books.
- Chances of women leaving work after marriage and post-pregnancy are not implausible. Home loan lenders supposedly defer or deny housing loan applications when a borrower is carrying and might take maternity leave in the near future.
- Condescending and impatient attitude towards intangible struggles of women with an excess of abbreviations and jargon is another factor that works against them even in these times. They may end up with an OK home loan rather than the best.
- Most banks follow an in-house credit check and as per their data analytics in which it is observed that the default rate among single women is marginally higher than other groups.
- The belief that women cannot procure well-paying jobs and those who do will find it impossible to remain employed. But what sheds light on the hypocrisy is that rarely do they ask an employed male applicant for a co-applicant or a guarantor.
What has changed for women in the last decade?
- The law is on the right side as it clearly states that banks and financiers cannot turn down an otherwise eligible applicant. They cannot tell her to come back later simply because she is a woman, pregnant or single or due to any attitudinal cause.
- Home loan interest rates in India have never lingered this close to historic lows in the recent past what with latest RBI regulations and intervention from the government on the subject.
- Many banks like State Bank of India and HDFC have introduced special home loan options for women. SBI’s Her Ghar scheme is a noteworthy effort. HDFC too offers subsidized housing loan schemes for women.