How the strength of stree can change India
Updated: Jan 23
Over the last few days leading up to today, you’ve probably heard several financial services companies talk about celebrating financial freedom and not limiting your income to a paycheque. We’d like to go a level deeper and focus on an important but often overlooked segment of our population: women.
Pay cheques and financial independence can be empowering, especially for women in India. One of many wonderful things about Indian women working is that it helps the country by leaps and bounds. A recent article in The Economist predicts that India can get richer by a whopping 27% if we can bring in 235 million more women into the country’s workforce to match the number of working men. Alarmingly, the report spoke about the decreasing female employment rate, down from 35% in 2006 to 26% by 2018.
India stands to gain the most out of any country if it can achieve gender equality.
According to a 2015 McKinsey report, the gains could result in an additional 700 billion dollars to India’s GDP by 2025, if comprehensive changes are made. In a world where governments try hard to increase the national income, it is heartening to know that the answer could lie in fixing our country’s systems.
Do these metrics and the idea of development at a national level seem too abstract to digest? Let’s zoom in on what financial independence means for you, the individual woman. Regardless of what we want from our lives, the one thing that empowers us is the freedom to mould our destiny.
Imagine driving your favourite car. What do you see? Perhaps, sleek exterior and you taking your friends or family for a spin to an exciting destination. You are likely not picturing the fuel that runs the car. Or even unexpected bumps along the way.
Our life goals could be higher education, working hard towards a dream career, giving our children the best upbringing, or even starting a company. Have you planned your finances to fuel them? Financial independence and financial forethought are important — it’s good to start planning early, but it’s also never too late to start. Healthy finances can also make addressing obstacles in our paths more manageable and less stressful.
Numbers tell us that women drop out from careers much more than men and a good percentage of them never come back after children. Even in often envied Scandinavian countries that have lesser gender pay gap, children are career killers for women according to a new study. Have you started planning for the unconventional paths your career and your income may take? Have you planned to not just save but invest in diversified financial instruments whether mutual funds, stocks, or other investments?
The advantages of having financially independent women in India are beyond the economic ones. Women are reported to spend a lot of earning on their family, and the impact on children who see their mother as an independent individual is unbeatable. A 2015 Harvard Business School report lists the direct effects of a working mother as significant across factors of employment, supervisory responsibility, earnings, allocation of household work, and care for family members. Women raised by working mothers were more likely to be in supervisory roles. Sons, on the other hand, learnt from a model that the workload at home was meant to be shared by all.
I am fully aware that the changes needed to be made to bring women to the workforce are mammoth. Regulations for women safety at work, educating girls with employable skills, a better leave system for both parents to participate in childcare, men contributing to household chores, and flexible work hours are just a few things needed to bring about any change.
If you want to get somewhere, the most effective way to do it is by being in the driver’s seat. Change starts with desiring it. Developments may happen but only you can determine how far you can go. So, get behind the wheel and mould your own financial destiny — and India’s too!
Happy Independence Day!
To learn more about money management, discuss all things money with a community of financially independent women and get personalised guided investing, download Basis now. India’s only personal finance platform focussed on women.