The Divide: Women and Finance

International Women’s Day (8th March) is a celebration of all the incredible women in our lives. It is also a day in the year when we all need to have a much more deliberate and active conversation about gender equality. And yes, until the playing field is completely evened out, I will continue to be an advocate for women’s rights and for women to break the mould that so many of us are socially conditioned to be in.

In my opinion, The cooking conversation or dividing household chores is such an over-rated one. I feel a lot of us in our generation have (thankfully so) moved past that. But there is a deep topic that isn’t really well explored – Financial Responsibility. We are not just talking about pay gaps, but also the way a woman is conditioned to “not be the finance person” – even when it comes to finances that affect her life.

Not being in control of your finances is almost like not having control of the accelerator that runs your own car.

In India, Paytm – the popular payment platform released a video of a social experiment conducted by them that clearly highlights the gap in financial literacy between men and women. 30 men and women of diverse backgrounds and age categories were brought into a huge room together taking a step forward or backward depending on the experiences they have had.

While at first, the questions seem fun (Cooking, video games, cycling), as soon as the conversation pivots to finances, most women were only taking steps behind.

“Do you know the difference between a mutual fund and SIP?”

“Have you bought insurance policies unassisted?”

“Do you file your own income tax returns?”

These questions were so hard hitting and brought home a key point – It’s not just differences in interest in finance between men and women, the issue is so much deeper and so much more systematic. In India, women aren’t taught or encouraged to “be the finance person”. Even when it comes to investments or insurance policies that affect a woman’s future directly, the decisions are still always taken by the male figures in the house (Fathers, Brother, Husbands).

I believe that we live in a generation where women need to take more control about their financial future. After-all, aren’t women equally capable to understand markets and read contracts?

“It is time to separate finance and gender”. Let’s work together for a more financially equal future, too.

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