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Dear Women: Do You Have Control Over Your Hard Earned Money?

“I am a post graduate, working and earning well. Yet I do not have a single rupee in my savings, nor the freedom to spend on myself as I want.” Deepa, a 32-year-old, mother of a 3-year child, living in an upscale area in Delhi, working in a MNC recently made this statement to me.

“I am a post graduate, working and earning well. Yet I do not have a single rupee in my savings, nor the freedom to spend on myself as I want”

Deepa, a 32-year-old, mother of a 3-year child, living in an upscale area in Delhi, working in a MNC recently made this statement to me. I was quite taken by surprise, as outwardly she is the ideal example of what today’s woman should be.

As the only child of her parents, she was a pampered girl who’s every wish was fulfilled. She did her post graduation and then worked her way up to middle management in a MNC.

Five years back she got married to this well-educated, well earning boy living with his parents and younger sister in a 3-bedroom flat. What else would a girl want? Besides, they were “okay” with the new daughter-in-law working, as they considered themselves modern and liberal.

So, what was I missing?

Soon after marriage, she was subtly told by her husband that in their house the finances were managed by his father as the head of the family.

Hence, her salary should be transferred to a common account, from where all expenses and investments were done as deemed fit for the family. She agreed as she was a part of this family now and anyway did not understand finances, and never tried to. Her father used to handle it before, so now her father-in-law.

Then her marriage jewellery was put in the family bank locker for safety. Fair enough.

As the initial euphoria of being married started to wane, she realized that when she wanted money for her personal expense, she had to ask and justify that expense to her husband or father-in-law.

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And most of the time they would turn it down, terming it as unnecessary expense.  Even after her son was born, she could not buy anything that she wanted for him, as everything was bought by the elders in the family.

She soon realized that she did not have access to her bank account as the password has been changed and a standing instruction to the bank ensured that her entire salary was transferred the day it touched her account.

Dear women, please take up the hassle of your own finances

When she raised this issue with her husband, the standard responses were, “Why do you want to hassle yourself with finances, everything is being taken care of” “Don’t you trust us, where would we run away with the money,” and, “Dad knows what is best for this family”

And if she pestered more, she would be guilt-tripped with the fact that have they ever said no to her working, does she have any issues with the marriage, don’t they take care of her, has she not been taught to respect the elders in the family?

And when she told her parents about it, the response would be, “He is the elder in the family, he knows best. Listen to him,” and, “That is your family now, you have to adjust to their way of living.”

So now 5 years after marriage at the age of 32 she has no freedom to use her own hard-earned money the way she wants.

What are the choices in front of her:

  • Stand for her right and demand for her earnings to be hers: There is a high chance of being alienated by her married family.
  • Leave her married house: Where does she go? She has no savings to start afresh and no support from her parents.
  • Continue living the way she is: Losing her self-respect and becoming prone to depression.

This is not just the story of Deepa. But of thousands of so called financially independent women who have the ability to earn but have no freedom to spend.

And this slowly eats away at their personality, making them submissive and prone to mental health issues. In my opinion, this is another instance of organized patriarchy!

Organized patriarchy is much more efficient at exploiting women

  • Women are kept away or conditioned into thinking that finances are not for them.
  • Irrespective of their education or working status, they are made to be dependent on the males in their family.
  • Going against the wishes or commands of the elder of the family, “Is not what good girls do!”

Financial education and being comfortable with money is a life skill to be taught to every person, irrespective of gender.

So I would say to all the girls and women out there, don’t shy away from learning about money and take charge of your finances.

Image source: Still from the trailer of the film, Jersey, edited on CanvaPro

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About the Author

Deepti Arora

Strong believer in the power of conversations and finding comfort in uncomfortable conversations. Love to encourage both genders to break the chains of patriarchy and come into their own indentity. Also love exploring the space read more...

6 Posts | 1,676 Views

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