Indian Women Still Depend on Male Family Members To Save For Them
I won’t lie to you. As a 26-year-old, I still rely on my father to save my money, to file my tax returns, and generally advise me on how to spend what I earn. The saving bit actually stemmed from my parents’ dire conviction from the time I started earning at age 20, that I would blow everything away, unless they save it for me. It did come in handy that my father works at a national bank.
It didn’t strike me as odd, because several of my friends too had their families and partners saving for them. It didn’t strike me as odd, until this week when I read a glaring report that a whopping 59% women from the ages of 20 to 34 depend on their spouses for financial planning and managing their investments.
A whopping 59% women from the ages of 20 to 34 depend on their spouses for financial planning and managing their investments.
Marielle Schurig, an account vice president at UBS Financial Services Inc., spoke to women at a wellness event in New York, only to find out that younger women are much more inclined to letting their partners take care of their own financial matters. Later, while being interviewed about the interactions, Schurig admitted that she was surprised at her own findings.
“You see women fighting for equal rights and equal opportunities, for respect in the workplace and at home. There are all these women running for political office. We continue talking about breaking glass ceilings. But once we make the money and get those positions, what are we doing with it?” she asks.
An Economic Times article concurs that the situation in India is not much different. Thanks to our social conditioning, even if Indian women are financially independent, there is a tendency to give into the thought process that saving money is a man’s domain. The report states, “Nearly 42% of the 139 women respondents to a survey conducted by ET Wealth said they let their partners handle the family’s money.”
Even if Indian women are financially independent, there is a tendency to give into the thought process that saving money is a man’s domain.
The article also speaks about how women sell themselves short at the time of job interviews or promotions, and are thus unable to negotiate a better salary. Given the statistic that Indian women are paid 34 percent less than men, we need to be in charge of our finances to ease ourselves into retirement. Even if we need financial planning help, it would be best to seek it on a professional capacity so that we take ownership of what we earn and compartmentalize our savings according to our lifestyles.
Priya Sunder, Director, PeakAlpha Investment Services rightly points out in the piece, “I have seen that women have a huge mind block about investing. Instead of educating themselves, they find it more convenient to transfer the responsibility to the men in the family.”
It is also timely to have this conversation around the International Women’s Day, which originated from trade union strikes so women could economically participate in the workplace. And today, an extension of that would be to also take ownership of what we earn.
I think it is unfair to make the assumption that if millennial women can spend on makeup and clothes, they should be able to understand as to how they should invest. Instead, we should empower women to let go of years of patriarchal conditioning and jump into action.
I think it is unfair to make the assumption that if millennial women can spend on makeup and clothes, they should be able to understand as to how they should invest.
As Kathleen Entwistle, a private wealth adviser at UBS Financial Services who’s worked for 18 years in the industry, asserted at a presentation, “The idea isn’t: Are men or women better? It’s the dynamics of the way we’ve been taught, brought up, and the way we think about these things.”
And it’s about damn time that we challenge that.
The views expressed are the author’s own.