The female labour participation in India decreased to 24.8 percent in 2020 from 34 percent in 2016, according to the United Nations Global Compact study. The study also reports that out of the 153 countries that were part of the study, India is the only country where the economic gender gap is larger than the political gap.
Another interesting statistic is that if India raises the participation of women to the level that men do, then it will increase the country’s GDP by 27 percent.
So when you see articles on why women should have financial independence, it is not only for the benefit of the individual, but also because women’s ascension affects the economy positively.
There was a time when women were entirely discouraged from taking up jobs, but thankfully that is not the situation anymore. With more and more women getting educated, they are also jumping into the workforce, but we have a long way to go.
Here is why women should be financially independent.
To increase their self-worth
Financial independence increases one’s self-worth, and that is extremely important for Indian women where gender equality is skewed. A majority of the Indian women are totally dependent on their spouses, which makes it impossible for them to walk out of an abusive marriage. Having money at their disposal allows them to take a strong decision when it comes to their life. Money gives women agency. It allows them to be more confident about situations in their life.
To balance the family
When the only other earning member in the family is the husband, there is a lot of pressure on them. Given the volatile situation of jobs in the country, losing one’s job is a highly possible thing. The COVID-19 situation has exacerbated the possibility of being given the pink slip. While it is socially acceptable for Indian women to not work, a working woman brings support when she adds her income to the family. It brings a balance to family life and eliminates the uncertainty of job losses.
To meet emergencies
The pandemic has shown the world how uncertain everything in the world is. Having an emergency fund you can dip your hands whenever there is a deficit is something that only most middle-class families can dream of. Unfortunately, the majority of middle-class families live paycheque to paycheque. If there is one more earning member in the family, it eliminates this problem as the extra money can be kept aside for emergencies.
To be someone to look up to
One of the biggest reasons why it is difficult to find women in leadership positions is because they don’t have a lot of female examples to look up to. By being financially independent, you will be able to inspire more women in your immediate circle to take up jobs and take charge of their lives and that of their families. The progress that you show in your personal and professional life will directly affect the magnitude of someone else’s dream. That’s a big responsibility and if you are in a position of power to influence others, then be an example.
While there is a lot that the individual women can do about taking care of their financial independence, the Indian government has created schemes that will offer them a fillip, starting from birth to their education. Schemes like Mahila-E-Haat, Mahila Shakti Kendra, and STEP scheme, etc., help in the financial empowerment of women.
Women with high levels of financial literacy will be able to grow their family’s finances as well as assist in long-term decision making. When the men and women in the family share the financial responsibility of the family, the partnership will result in a brighter future.
(Edited by Teja Lele)