- The Washington Times - Monday, November 18, 2013

The Election Commission of India has approved the launch of the first all-women bank in the country on Tuesday, although branches have been banned in Delhi and Madhya Pradesh.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi are expected to attend Tuesday’s inaugural ceremony of the Bharatiya Mahila Bank in Mumbai, coinciding with the birthday of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the Times of India reported.

The commission has said the government should ensure that no publicity of the inauguration be done in the poll-bound states of Delhi and Madhya Pradesh.

Seven branches will become operational across the country with the inauguration, including in Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Guwahati, the report said.

“Women are heads of many banks today, including two public sector banks, but there is no bank that exclusively serves women. Can we have a bank that lends mostly to women and women-run businesses, that supports women SHGs [self-help groups] and women’s livelihood, that employs predominantly women, and that addresses gender-related aspects of empowerment and financial inclusion? I think we can,” said finance minister P. Chidambaram, the Times of India reported.

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