Globally, the idea of gender roles is undergoing a seismic shift from traditional values. There is no profession where women are now less confident or apprehensive to foray into. With changing times, a much needed change has been brought into the gender equality scenario. But, it’s no secret that we still have a long way to go before gender equality becomes a fully realized idea.
One area where women still continue to lag behind as compared to men is financial wellness. In almost every country on earth, women tend to outlive men. So it makes little sense that women should still lag behind in this sphere. A recent study by Corporate Insight showed that women are less confidant, less prepared and less engaged than men when it comes to financial health. The same study also indicated that women consistently put “do not know” as their answer when asked questions about financial literacy. This trend has not undergone much change since 2016. Women also exhibited less knowledge, poorer saving practices, lower overall savings and contributions than men.
These are all very worrying trends that stand in the way of gender equality. This also begs the question, why? What could be the reasons for this kind of financial disparity between men and women?
Why This Disparity?
Financial wellness is a direct result of financial literacy. As we just saw, women do not fare well in this sphere. This lack of education directly translates to a dearth of decision making skills at crucial moments of savings and investing.
Another reason is the gender pay gap that despite widespread awareness, continues to persist in our society. Less than 6% Fortune 500 companies have women as CEOs, women are 80% more likely than men to be poor after retirement and are more likely to take unpaid work.
Add to that the fact that women get less than a third of pension than an average man, owing to factors like childcare, part time work and eldercare responsibilities. Once these factors compound, the pay gap can look almost impossible to catch up to. Add to the fact that a woman’s longer lifespan requires her to save more as compared to the average man. This further thins the resources a woman saves for retirement, which is already less than the average man.
Despite the numbers painting a sombre story, there are solutions that can be implemented to realize the intrinsic goal of a woman’s financial well being.
- The first step is raising awareness about financial health amongst women. Women in rural areas have a tendency to be pushed into domestic occupations, and with the presumption on them to handle familial responsibilities, it leads them to pursue their career aspirations less aggressively. Putting more effort in educating more women can only lead to better financial health.
- Another solution can be personalized financial wellness programs. Women show wide variance in decisions like when to start a family, family roles etc. Financial plans should be tweaked to incorporate childcare decisions and other life choices that are limited to only women.
- Organizations also need to do more to bridge the gender pay gap. Instead of giving parental leave only to women, they should also give paternity leave to fathers, so that childcare can be a shared experience, without putting female careers at stake.
Services like EarlySalary can work as ideal solutions to short term cash requirements. As a result, women can tide over expenses when needed, while retaining some flexibility and control over their financial health. With short term loans available for as low as Rs 9/day, borrowing for urgencies, or even leisure, is far easier than ever before.
There is still clearly a long way to go until we achieve equality in financial wellness. By and large, women still tend to put their careers on the line for families and children. However, with time, it’s reasonable to be hopeful of this gender gap decreasing. Improving women’s financial health is a challenge that looks more scalable than ever before.