Did you know that research says, women are naturally predisposed to managing finances better than men? Yikes, now wasn’t that a gender bias right there?

But it’s research! Based on facts and a horde of data.

So why is it that the general assumption among many of us, including among women, is that it’s men who should manage money matters, and not women?

How did we let gender get in the way of our finances?

Well, being a woman in a male-dominated finance field, this is something I want to address. So over the last few days, in the spirit of International Women’s Day, I’ve been asking women what financial freedom means to them.

Sandhya UC, co-founder at Indiahikes, puts it beautifully, “True gender equality is possible only when a woman is financially independent. Financial freedom puts me on an equal footing with men in society. It is something every woman must have and preserve lifelong. Life can take any turn in the future. The ability to stand on your own two feet in terms of money, ensures your dignity and confidence in yourself.”

Entrepreneur, Vaishali Kasture, echoes Sandhya’s thoughts and adds another perspective. “You don’t know what life throws at you. When times are rough, finance should be one less thing to worry about. Right financial planning ensures independence.”

On independence, Senior Customer Success Manager at LinkedIn, Vinita S. says, “Financial freedom is the power to be independent to live the way I wish, without any dependencies. It’s the ability to choose where and how I’d like to spend my money in order to live a life of my choice.

Think about it. Financial freedom is regarded highly by women across fields. And men for that matter.

Varun Vummidi, founder of financial wellness company, Wellmo, says, “Though women tend to rely on their fathers or husbands for investment advice, this is a bad idea.” He’s observed that “women are especially good at saving for a rainy day or even planning toward an occasion based investment decision like a holiday or even shopping!”

If all this is true, why don’t more women take charge of their finances, and sooner? And why aren’t more men encouraging the women in their lives to do so?

For this, let’s for a moment, take a hard look at the world we live in.

“Our stereotype of men holds that they are providers, decisive and driven. Our stereotype of women holds that they are caregivers, sensitive and communal. Because we characterize men and women in opposition to each other, professional (and financial) achievement and all the traits associated with it get placed in the male column”, says Sheryl Sandberg in her 2013 book, Lean In.

Further, a 2018 Grant Thornton report says that the representation of women in top leadership positions in India is still only at 20%.

Why India, statistics like this exist all over the world.

The Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport says, that 40% percent of all sports participants are female, yet women’s sports receive only 4% of all sport media coverage.

Such societal gender biases are often unspoken and even blatantly spoken around us, all the time. The financial world isn’t unaffected by these biases.

Let go of the stereotyping

As we start speaking out more, these biases and stereotypes are breaking. Slowly and steadily. Last year, in her book, Moment of Lift – How Empowering Women Changes the World, Melinda Gates rightly says, “When women learn, their entire families, communities, and even countries benefit.” This learning and education extends to financial planning as well.

And it’s a lot simpler than it might seem. Within months or even days of starting to manage your own finances, you feel more in control of your life as a whole. This control impacts you tremendously, leaving you happier and financially healthier for the long term.

By now, I’m going to assume you’re convinced that managing your finances is essential. In case you don’t already handle money matters yourself, you might wonder how you’re going to develop the confidence, ability and skill to actually do it. Journalists and authors, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, in The Confidence Code, say,

“Every piece of research we have studied, and every interview we have conducted, leads to the same conclusion: Nothing builds confidence like taking action.”

So here’s a quick actionable guide to help with the “How do I do it?” bit.

A How-To Money Management Guide for Women

To sum up the meaning of financial freedom perfectly, renowned Kathak dancer and trainer, Nayantara Kurma Parpia says, “For me, the most important lesson that my gurus and parents taught me, has always been to work towards my goal and my dreams, not worrying about the money, but trusting that the money will follow in due time if you are honest and sincere in your work. I have been blessed with the kind of training only few in this field receive, from great maestros, which has helped me reach a point quite early in my life, where the hard work is literally paying off. Another thing I have learnt from my family, and especially my amazingly supportive husband, is that money should not be thought of as “mine” or “yours”. Whatever we have is ours, and maybe we won’t have that forever. But while we do, we trust each other to do the right thing with our common finances, so that we have mutual financial freedom.”

Dive right into it

So whether you’re a man or a woman, take the plunge. Learn about personal finance management. Even if it’s just a little, and even if it’s only every once in a while. Let’s create a world where we’re gender neutral. Because and especially when it comes to your finances, the skill of effective money management will hold you in good stead no matter where life takes you. Always.

Happy Women's Day!
Happy International Women’s Day!

PS: If you need a little more inspiration here are a few books that Rushina and I would recommend on the occasion of Women’s Day. Go take a look. 🙂

Author Bio - Komal Shivdasani

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