EMPOWERING WOMEN THROUGH FINANCIAL INCLUSION

EMPOWERING WOMEN THROUGH FINANCIAL INCLUSION

There is no doubt that women command a special status in Hinduism. Just like the three major gods, we also worship the “Tridevi”, the triad of the prominent goddess, Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati or Kali. Saraswati is the goddess of learning, knowledge and arts, Lakshmi the goddess of wealth, prosperity and glory while Parvati or Kali is the goddess of war, power and love. Needless to say, although we revere different forms of goddesses, how we treat them in real life leaves a lot to be desired.
The biggest question we need to ask is whether women in today’s era enjoy the same level of financial autonomy and independence as men do. Are women being heard? Do they have the same say in the financial matters of the family? The answer is likely to be a ‘No’. Even in cases where women are earning and financially independent, we find the men either taking financial decisions or influencing the same on behalf of the women. Most of us do not trust our wife, sister and mother to make smart financial decisions. We believe they need to be protected and guided. Isn’t this contrary to the goddesses we worship? Unfortunately, this is the same story across the globe in all cultures, even in developed economies, except maybe a few pockets/communities.
Almost every government and international bodies recognize that women’s economic empowerment is central to realizing women’s rights and gender equality. There is a disproportionate impact on a country’s health, literacy and GDP growth when women learn and work. Without painting everyone with the same colour, we should accept that there still exists different levels of discrimination against women in our homes.
Let us let the women of our country fly higher and encourage them to realize their own dreams and true potential. Let them learn from mistakes and gain the confidence of standing up after falling down. As a nation, we have many women who became the inspiration of millions as PM, President, top CEOs of multi-national companies, scientists, artists, astronauts and sports personalities. Today, we are proud to be amongst the very few countries with women flying fighter jets in combat roles. There is no office to big or sky too high for them. Let us be the change we want to see. Let us take the small steps we should be taken long ago.

1. What can we do?

The question is, how we can begin at home and stop any sort of discrimination in financial and business matters. Remove all such restrictions which cut their dreams and aspirations and stop them from realizing their own potential. Here is what we can do…

Financial literacy should be one of the very core learnings we should share. Share with them your learnings on how the banking system, the financial markets, the asset classes, the financial products, the key concepts and terms and so on. Let them learn through experience rather than words. Get them introduced and interested in wealth management. These valuable lessons will perhaps be their greatest asset for their entire life.

We should treat the girls and women on par with the boys and the men when it comes to financial matters. Let them also participate equally in all financial matters and decision-making process. Make them stakeholders where possible. If you are running a business, there is a great opportunity to also train them for business. Let them also handle clients, orders, finance, and even negotiate, when ready. Surely, we can trust them to bargain hard and argue smartly. As head of the family, it is also critical that you share details of all your investments and accounts and key relationships with your spouse.

With financial literacy and greater involvement, let the women of the home assume ownership beyond just household budgets. Put them on the path to complete financial independence and freedom. Begin by opening their independent banks, having a separate investment account, having their own health and life policies, and so on.

Finally, it all comes down to trust. The real test would be to fully trust the women in our homes to make decisions on their own. Surely, we can share our experience and knowledge, but only as inputs to their decisions, if asked for. These decisions can be w.r.t. education, career and money. Trusting that even if any mistakes are made, they would learn from the same and emerge wiser and stronger is perhaps the most important element of trust.

2. Setting the Course

If the adult female members of the family, these are the immediate things you need to do.

Every important member of the family should have a term and health insurance, especially earning members, irrespective of gender. Ensure that you do a holistic insurance portfolio evaluation with the help of your insurance advisor. Term, health, personal accident and critical illness insurance must be within this scope.

Open an NJ E-Wealth Account or any investment account as per your choice. Introduce them to mutual funds, SIPs and all relevant investment products. Let them also learn how to use the desk and reports on their own.

The above things become even more crucial if you have female members who are also earning. Let them enjoy and save their money as per their wishes. Let them also start direct and independent conversations with your NJ Wealth Partner /financial product distributors.

The above things become even more crucial if you have female members who are also earning. Let them enjoy and save their money as per their wishes. Let them also start direct and independent conversations with your NJ Wealth Partner /financial product distributors.

Conclusion

Enough has been said on heavy topics like women empowerment, gender equality, financial literacy and so on. As we start a new decade, we should shelve our old, retro thinking. Our dream of a new, confident, ‘atma-nirbhar’ or self-reliant India won’t be possible until 50% of the population is also ‘atma-nirbhar’. Let them dream, fly, fall and fly higher again. And let us begin at home.