It’s International Women’s Day today, or was according to half the planet. On my way to work, the world looked pinker. Women commuting to work seemed on pink overdose today, possibly on HR suggestion. Roses, cupcakes and cards of ‘thank you for empowering our organization’ featured on Snapchats of several. As I cringed at pictures of pink clothed women celebrating the day at restaurants, I could imagine the slow progression of Women’s Day in India turning into another Pink Valentine’s Day. Yes it is a day to celebrate our achievements, we may no longer fight for voting rights but there are subtler things kept away from us like finance management.
It was welcoming to see men sharing pictures of important women in their lives on social media. While I understand their wish to flaunt these with the hashtags, we women need more, even if we do not realize its lacking. Finance management is one such pool of patriarchal knowledge that needs to be given better access to women of all age groups. Whenever questions of savings and investment are raised, they are pacified by their husband, son or father saying, “I have taken care of everything”. You see we were schooled on how to save for a house or car. But saving money is good was always floated. Girl grow up seeing their mothers, grandmothers and aunts handle domestic finance but their investment knowledge remain nil as the information was never really shared. This has been passed to the young working class women. A sense of smart saving is sadly lacking in the millennial women. If you think our tendency to splurge on clothes and shoes is the reason, think again.
In a country where 27% women contribute to the labour force, more and more women are entering the employment sector with little guidance on how to manage their money wisely. Concepts of mutual funds, fixed deposit, shares, insurance and equity at large remain foreign to them till Google comes to their aide. Life would be so much easier for them if they are schooled from a young age on what percent of their saved money should be invested in mutual funds or what should be the sum of your life insurance or what part of their saved income should be deposited in their PPF account or what are the best income tax saving schemes? These are questions that secretly baffle women no matter how low or high profile their jobs are. Granted they can reach out to wealth managers but few can afford it. This Women’s Day I appeal to all men to teach their sisters, daughters, wives, mothers and girlfriends about finance management, the simple basics of what long term and short term investment means can go a long way. Just plant the seeds and they will take it ahead, women always have. Bagging a wealthy husband should not be the only finance management plan you pass on to them.