Medha spends thousands of rupees every month in buying clothes and accessories. When she was advised to invest in a monthly savings plan, her answer was ‘let me consult my father’!
Kiran holds a senior position in a telecommunications firm. Her key performing area is getting new business for the firm. But when she was buying her own house, all she could say was, ‘Oh, my husband will make the final decision’!
Did it happen because Medha and Kiran did not want to commit themselves or Were they scared to take the decisions involving money?
Women are often unwilling to participate in financial matters at home. Let’s see some of the reasons:
1. Work-home balance:
There is a continuous struggle to balance work and home. At a work place the parameters of evaluating a female’s capabilities are no less stringent than their male colleagues. While men on an average are able to devote their time to work without being bothered about household chores, women work hard to manage both.
Women are expected to keep the family well fed, healthy and emotionally strong. They are judged if their house is presentable. They not only give birth to the children but also are fully responsible for their upbringing. Indian women have an additional responsibility of appeasing their relatives particularly after marriage. When they are barely getting time to take care of their physical and emotional health, the financial health is getting ignored. They often do not want to add this new dimension to the list of their endless responsibilities.
2. Career breaks:
Career breaks are the time period away from work, which means disruption of earnings. Women often take breaks during marriage and child birth. A lot of them decide to become stay-at-home moms to raise children. This strenuous task keeps them both mentally and physically occupied. They are not able to contribute to the family income even though they are physically and intellectually capable to do so. The rising costs, the uncertainties in the professional lives of their male counterparts make them unhappy for not being able to do so. Subsequently the non earning state and the emotional pressure of career break reduce their interest in the financial matters of the family. They are satisfied with taking care of the regular expenses. They also do not update themselves about the current personal finance news.
The lack of time, interest and knowledge makes women less confident about the financial matters and they do not wish to be a part of the long term financial planning process and decisions involving large amount of money.
3. Division of labor:
The historical division of labour is accepted even in modern times. Men are the breadwinner or earner of the family and women are the child bearer and the care taker of the family. Even though woman has accepted the double role of earner and care taker, the role of man has hardly changed. Hence men are still the prime earner in most of the households. They are automatically assuming responsibility of the financial matters as well.
Sometimes even women feel happier with this division of labour, mostly because it takes the extra pressure away from them.
4. Complex world of personal finance:
Continuous absence of women from the monetary battle ground has made them averse to the financial matters. They are disinclined towards the subject and often find it complex to understand. They ignore the fact that men find the financial matters equally challenging as the women find them. The reason is one: it may not be their area of specialization! Same as women!
5. Bad omen:
Now this is the worst result of women been away from money matters! Some of them loath the topic so much that they find it a bad omen to talk about home finances. Like when the financial value of human life and health is discussed as in life and health insurances. Some even feel hesitant to write down the expenses. They want to continue to believe that all is well and mere listing down the expenses will increase them. Even some men feel so! Ignorance is bliss for them.
Women have won the battle for getting ‘the freedom of livelihood’, but are they enjoying it as well? How many Medhas and Kirans do you know?
The times have changed and so are the roles of both man and woman! When men are willing to help at home shouldn’t women participate in home finance?
We will examine some serious reasons in the next article.