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India is the largest receiver of remittance, at $69 billion across the globe

KOCHI: As the international migration continues to show an upward slope, the significance of women workforce in the total NRI workforce is often overlooked.

Though no official estimates are available, industry experts points out that out of the total workforce of 2.6 crore, the fair-sex is somewhere between 5 to 10 per cent. However, in Kerala, the largest remittance receiving state, the contribution is as high as 16 per cent.

To understand the impact of remittances on the economic empowerment of women, a recent study by Western Union finds out that remittances lead to higher financial inclusion and empowerment of women.
India is the largest receiver of remittance, at $ 69 billion (Rs 4.62 lakh crore) in 2015, globally. With 2.6 crore NRI workforce, the total money sent by women workforce back to India is around 6-8 per cent of the total remittance.

“Currently in India, only 26 per cent of women have an account with a formal financial institution, compared to 46 per cent men. Most migrant husbands send money home to their wives. Hence they had opened a bank account to conduct remittance-related transactions,” the study points out. 

Women receiving remittances also spend more on educational needs of children (including the female child). As a result of remittance a female family member had acquired a new skill or undertaken higher education, it noted.
Globally, women account for 48 per cent of all international migrants. But the scenario is different for India, says S Irudaya Rajan, Chair Professor, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. In his opinion, except Kerala no other states are sending women overseas in large numbers.

Women from India are poised to play an active and decisive role in the corporate world, across the globe.

“They exhibit great restraint in spending on self in the earning country and try to send maximum amount for the household needs back home. They play an active role in encouraging their family and building the next generation of well empowered citizens. In the future, more women will get educated and explore better career prospects outside India,” says Promoth Manghat, CEO, UAE Exchange, adding that the West continues to remain promising for better job prospects.

“Most NRI working women are either nurses or housemaids. As food and accommodation are provided for them, they do not have much expenses. They can send more money back home. In Kerala, about 20-30 per cent of the total remittance is sent by women,” says Rajan.

The total number of women in the expatriate population of GCC varies across different countries, but stands between 25-40 per cent of the total number, says Adeeb Ahamed, CEO, Lulu Exchange.

“A large number of qualified and experienced women work in the GCC region and form an integral part of one of the largest remitting corridors in the world. The future too looks promising for women migrants, as they are attracted by the diversifying economy in the GCC, greater opportunities and tax-free environment. Events like Expo 2020 and the football World Cup in 2022 are also pushing the gulf countries to open more avenues for women,” hopes Adeeb.

Remittances contribute 36 per cent and 14 percent to the state domestic product of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, respectively. 60 per cent are unskilled, 20 per cent each belongs to semi-skilled and skilled category. According to experts, 60 per cent of the NRI remittances are being utilised for household expenses in India.  Kerala,with 24 lakh expatriates, received around Rs 85,000 crore in 2015.

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