Bitcoin has helped us rethink many aspects of the modern world and has even empowered us to restructure society to eliminate many of its evils. It has paved the way for the formation of a multilateral, decentralized world. It shows great potential for bridging the economic gap between the haves and the have nots.
Cryptocurrency has emerged at a point of intersection of two fields witnessing male domination since their inception- technology and finance. However, its decentralized nature provides for a transparent system of transactions and much greater user autonomy. It also avoids the hassles of bank transactions and overhead expenses, making economic facilities available to people from all economic sectors, which is difficult to achieve through the conventional financial system.
How can bitcoin empower women?
Bitcoin and blockchain technology have started making some economic facilities available to women worldwide that previously could not reach them. Some ways in which bitcoin has the potential to empower women are:
Due payment of work and ownership of assets
In many developing and underdeveloped countries, women are primarily engaged in the unorganized sector. They hardly receive due acknowledgment and payment for their work. Despite making a significant contribution to the economy of these countries, these women own only a tiny portion of their assets. That is because a patriarchal society prohibits women from working. Even when they do work, the male family members confiscate their earnings. Afghan entrepreneur Roya Mahboob significantly solved this problem when she decided to pay her female workers through bitcoin, making it impossible for men to take away their earnings.
Access to financial services like loans is unavailable in many underdeveloped nations, especially for women who have to remain indoors due to social conventions. In the Middle East and Africa, only about 18% of women hold bank accounts. Using bitcoin, these women can have easier access to financial services as it does not require them to step out of their houses. They can invest in these digital currencies to earn interests, raise capital for startups, and even conduct transactions through platforms like the bitcoin system, all without having to step out of their houses.
Remittances are an informal act of philanthropy in which immigrating members of a family send a part of their income back to their countries, generally to their families. The state keeps a portion of this amount. Bitcoin and blockchain can make this process of sending remittances easier, cheaper, and much more secure. Women are more likely to be on the receiving end of these remittances, as according to statistics, more men migrate in search of work than men. As such, the women receiving this amount can save a lot more money on using bitcoin.
Increased capital for startups in developing countries
Although studies show that women are much more likely to return loans on time and use them in a better manner, most banks worldwide prefer providing loans to men. As such, receiving loans for a startup becomes much more difficult for women, especially those who are unemployed. Bitcoin can solve this problem as several bitcoin exchanges, and brands are now willing to provide microloans to women through bitcoin.
Role of bitcoin in women empowerment in developed countries
Bitcoin can also help women in developed countries. That is especially true in the case of raising funds and loans for startup businesses. Initial Coin Offerings or ICOs offer great opportunities for women to raise funds for their businesses. These have the potential to shift the paradigm of investments and fundraising, especially for female entrepreneurs. It provides investors with an opportunity to invest early in large enterprises, putting women at par with men.
Many continue to reject the legitimacy of cryptocurrency as a digital currency because of its links with criminal activities like drug peddling, human trafficking, and money laundering. However, such critics overlook and neglect the social and economic reforms that these financial tools can bring about. Apart from establishing a more equalist economic system and a unified world order, bitcoin can also help eradicate gender equality by empowering women.