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It is a shame that women owe an explanation to their husbands or in-laws for where every penny went. Here’s a strong argument for women’s economic liberation.
Many of us recall our mums having accounts for doodh, sabji, kirana and every bra and pant purchased. You might also recall that they never bought sanitary napkins and chose to use cloth instead, as napkins were expensive.
They talked about how hard it was to give that occasional gift to their siblings or how it was impossible for them to take responsibility for their own parents in their old age.
It is a shame that women owe an explanation to their husbands or in-laws for where every penny went. And deny themselves so much for others because they don’t own their money.
While growing up, no matter what we asked our moms, the stock reply we got was, “Ask your father.” So anything, right from books and tuition fees to new clothes, bags, shoes and bangles and bindis and nail polish, required the father’s approval. Meanwhile, our mum would cook special meals to placate him into fulfilling our demands. As they say, the only other way to a man’s wallet is his stomach!
My mum’s words still resonate with me, “Never stretch your hand, keep your dignity. And no matter what, no matter how hard it gets to earn a living, never give up.”
No matter what they say, money does get the world going! You need money to put food on the table, buy your favourite label, eat outside, have a data card, pay your bills, shop online! Have you ever wondered why they say, money can’t buy you love or happiness, when it can make the world go round!
My first job in a sarkari daftar earned me a little over thousand rupees, back in the 90s, and the Rs. 1000 meant the world to me.
A number of us learnt how to open a bank account, invest in insurance and funds. This helped an entire generation of women realise that they could own homes, buy cars, travel around. These women understood that they could pay for their marriage without letting anyone stake claim to their success story. But most importantly, they learnt that you don’t need a man to buy you diamonds. Now isn’t that the first lesson in adulting?
Though women, often, are good planners while taking care of their families, they generally tend to ignore the financial planning and money matters. These things, they prefer leaving to their husbands or fathers.
Sadly, not all men are wise and that’s the reason why women can’t trust them with their future. Additionally, it doesn’t make sense to constantly be dependent on partners, in-laws, or children for support. Women need to secure their future themselves.
“Why don’t women own a house even after years of earning?” This is one of the saddest lines we hear from women, who even years after marriage, feel deprived of having a home in their sasural. Women experience a sense of displacement and need to build their nests and not leave it to destiny.
Whether it is choosing their career or choosing to have a baby, buying a home or taking responsibility for the parents, economic importance is extremely important. Financial empowerment is an enabler for women to feel and become important and equal stakeholders in their marriages. This also helps them control their lives better.
It is observed that women working outside homes have an added advantage in terms of exposure to the world and its ways. This in no way undermines the strength of women who stay at home, but to emphasise that the world outside empowers and strengthens us to achieve our true potential enabling women to handle challenges and conflicts more effectively by creating support systems outside their own families.
Economic independence is invariably linked to freedom and liberation. According to a NSS report in 2014, the overall literacy rate in India is 75.7% for males and 62% for females. What’s more dismal is that the participation of women in the workplace is 23% according to recent global index reports.
The reason for lack of participation of women in the workplace lies in our traditional patriarchal system. A system where women are not encouraged but restricted from working outside the home.
Meenakshi belongs to an orthodox family where women observed ghoongat even inside their home. She watched her friends apply for placements in college while she felt wistful about being married while still in college.
However, in an unusual turn of events, her father had serious health issues and she was forced to take up the challenge of running her father’s jewellery business. Meenakshi was a quick learner and soon picked up the ropes of trading, stocks, books and cash. Her experience helped her even after her marriage when she refused to stay back and insisted on joining her husband’s business.
So, participation in financial matters, empowers women to take control of their lives as economic independence is the game changer for skewed equations in gender equality.
Picture credits: Pexels
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