I am at the Bengaluru airport getting back from an event. An old friend calls, “Are you in the city?” “Just getting back home, why?” I ask. “No, my wife just came back from your event and is asking me what we do with our money! I’ve been trying to get her interested for decades and it has finally happened!” he said. I had just spoken to a group of over 200 women at the FICCI FLO event in the city on women and money and was really chuffed that the talk was having an effect already.
After dozens of such events, I have a few learnings about what I see are common issues across varied groups of the gender. One, since women tend to hold dual and triple jobs of working both outside and inside the home, with their husbands “helping” out at best (not sharing—notice the difference in the use of words), they are happy to hand over money and its management to the man. Again, notice, how that is the one job he is happy to take over without the usual excuse of I-don’t-do-this-as-well-therefore-you-do-it, or oh-honey-I-forgot-to-take-the-dog-to-the-vet-and-now-I’m-travelling-so-you-do-it. We can call it social conditioning of the household that the man is fully ready to accept this job as his and the woman is absolutely sure that money is not something she understands. The jokes are all about spendthrift women in parties, WhatsApp messages and on social media. But the fact is that women save really well, it is just the transition from saving to investing that they are told they are not good enough to do. But this one job that women give up is the one that is crucial for their financial independence and future.