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According to the LXME 2020 Survey, women may have knowledge of finances, they are still dependent on others for decision making.
In India and around the world, a woman’s role and responsibilities are highly influenced and shaped by the relationships she shared. Early on a lot of decisions were made for her, by her parents, especially by fathers. And after the wedding, this either adds more from the in-laws or remains limited to the husband.
Though in most cases it would’ve been so, don’t think of this as only a patriarchal problem. Some women may prefer depending upon a doting male or female authority figure in their lives. While this is not an immediate problem or issue, in the long run, the ability to be independent keeps getting affected. And ultimately becomes a larger issue when those people aren’t around us anymore.
The last 20 years have seen a paradigm shift where women are looking to emerge in fields, both personal and professional. Especially in the male-dominated strongholds such as politics, business, science, and finance. However, the road to curbing dependency is a long one and a lot of work is required to close in on that gap.
Take finance, for instance. Although around 80 percent of women own bank accounts, more than half of them are known to use it in a limited capacity or in none at all. This holds true for most women in India today, be it among the urban population or rural, be it by choice or having no say!
To delve deeper into the problem and understand why this continues to occur, LXME put forth a survey and spoke to women who trust us with helping them grow their wealth. When asked about making financial decisions, 66 percent of women said that they do not make their own financial decisions. Meanwhile, approximately 28 percent depend on their fathers to make financial decisions in their lives.
Surprisingly, although not shockingly enough only 5 percent of the respondents depended on their mothers to make financial decisions. Here, we identify two main concerns,
Taking a wedding into account to understand what happens after a woman is married. The number of women not making financial decisions increases from 66 percent to 69 percent. Here we observed that fathers have been replaced by either husbands or joint decision making by the couple. And the level of dependency further progresses when a woman has children.
A 90x increase is observed in this situation where the husband making financial decisions increased from 17 percent (women without children) increased to 33 percent (women with children).
The key takeaway from this exercise suggests that financial dependency increases as a woman progresses from a daughter to a wife and finally a mother. And a loop is formed where they don’t depend on their mothers for financial dependency.
They depend upon others for their financial decisions and finally going back to not being relied upon to make financial decisions. An unending loop!
To understand this better, we performed a short exercise of surveying children and women and their perception with regards to this topic. Breaking it down simply to them by asking about their knowledge of money, source of knowledge and their observation of financial decision making. We found that over 86 percent of women educate their children about financial decision making by teaching them about money. And by inculcating money management habit while encouraging them to save more.
Even though mothers are the primary source of knowledge, only seven percent of respondents claimed that their mothers took financial decisions in the house. While 66 percent strongly claimed that their mothers don’t make financial decisions. And finally, of all these women who have acquired knowledge about financial dependency, only 24 percent actually end-up making financial decisions independently.
The problem seems to lie in a situation where although a woman might have the knowledge, is seen imparting that knowledge, they may yet not be involved in any financial decision making, for whatsoever reasons. We’re living in the 21st century where women are consistently making strides to progress further.
Financial dependency is just another nail in the coffin for the struggles of women in our country. A step towards financial freedom must also be one of our top priorities and should remain one of our focused goals until achieved. Simply begin asking yourself ‘why not just decide for yourself.’ And then, take charge of your own finances, to be independent enough to take your own decisions in spending and investing your money to grow.
Picture credits: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
Priti Rathi Gupta is the Founder of LXME (Digital Investment Platform for women) and the Managing Director and Promoter at Anand Rathi Share & Stock Brokers Ltd. She has been associated with the Anand Rathi read more...
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