One of the most heartening stories I have come across about women’s choice and freedom is from a mid-90s tele series, Thoda Sa Aasmaan, a story capturing the lives of three women from different age groups.
The first one rebels against her parents to follow her dream job. The second makes the choice of moving out of a lonely and suffocating marriage. And the third leaves behind 40 years of conjugality after being betrayed by her husband, even though her kids refused to support her decision to move out.
The situations of these three women are different, but the common thread in their stories is that they overcame oppressive social mores to carve out a life of dignity, one where they had the freedom to follow their dreams.
The series was, of course, making a larger point, but the future of these women was left to the imagination of the audience. Real life, though, gives no such creative liberty. Often, the missing piece in such stories of emancipation is the financial aspect.
It takes a lot for a woman to walk off from an unhappy family situation, not just emotionally but also financially. That’s because few women truly strive to achieve financial freedom, a key ingredient to brew the flavour of life they like.
Life, as they say, is unpredictable and more so for women, who have to fight for their rights at every step of the way—whether it’s for choosing a career they like, for their rightful inheritance, having a piece in the pie of family assets, or even to make simple financial decisions.
The theme of International Women’s Day for 2023 is #EmbraceEquity, and the first step towards that needs to be taken by women themselves. According to a Tata AIA Life Insurance survey released in 2022, 59 per cent of working women do not make their own financial decisions, but when given a choice, 44 per cent would like to do that.
It’s time to change that and lay claim to what is rightfully yours, and have skin in the game of family finances. Not just in terms of budgeting and putting away some money, but by becoming a decision-maker and building individual net-worth you can rely on.
This also holds true for homemakers, who choose to invest their time, energy, and talent in their families rather than careers. The choice is yours, but it should not close the doors to equality, either in spirit or in finances.
In this issue of Outlook Money, we tell the stories of five women financial advisors who have displayed strength and clarity in charting their own courses and are helping several other women in doing so.
Their individual journeys have learnings that can go a long way in making women financially independent. We hope they will inspire you to break stereotypes that bind you.