A Country with millions of female Finance Ministers

We do not have only one female finance minister, we have millions of them. There resides one in every house, let’s nurture them and help them grow.

August 17, 2020 12:11 IST | India Infoline News Service
Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, women of India are in a precarious situation. The gender gap has become shockingly huge due to the financial impact. In areas such as education, employment, and income, opportunities for women were already low, and the lockdown has made them far worse. Not even a quarter of women in India are a part of the labor force. There is a difference in income of 35% compared to the average of what men earn - and the global average is 16%.

And that’s not all!

Women represent about 49% of the demographic of India, yet their contribution to the economic output is only 18%; which has been further set back by the current circumstances.

No equality in crisis

Millions of migrant workers were forced to flee from cities to their rural homes, among which many were women. These women have to take responsibility for their families that includes, in most cases, more than one child. Women across the country are over-represented in informal jobs and vulnerable service jobs like agriculture and sex work, where there is zero safety net. India stands at 112th out of 153 countries in terms of equal opportunities to men and women, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index 2020.

Domestic violence has doubled since the quarantine, giving women an unsafe environment even in their homes. Especially in the educational aspect, girls are disadvantaged as the general tendency of the family is towards making investments on a boy's future. Only 29% of internet users in India are female, which means that the gap carries forward to digital education as well! 

Why women must save more

The whole ordeal created by the pandemic affects the women who are lone bread-winners in the family very harshly. Besides, women are most likely to be stigmatized and vulnerable to attacks from a patriarchal society which traditionally does not expect them to progress as a single mother, a divorcee, or a widow. The primary reason for a woman deciding to take a career break is usually personal and family-based. It may be taking care of the elderly or children, pregnancy, or childbirth. These reasons tend to hinder their earnings.

Thus, it is a dire need for a woman to save more. 

Are women better with money?

Statistics show that women can certainly outperform men in many categories as they have multitasking capabilities and can more than balance work and house. They have an innate sense of putting others' needs first. Women as money-managers behave differently than men, according to studies. They tend to focus on long term goals rather than chasing short term gains. They have a very disciplined approach with persistence and patience in saving and investing, allowing them to target long term goals.

Women take an altogether different approach to decision-making. Studies have reported that they are likely to take an analytical route in decision making more often than men who prefer to go with their intuition. They weigh their pros and cons before taking a critical step with a long-term impact on their financial well-being. They are also better at budgeting as they can handle income and expenses to provide a comfortable lifestyle, while also maintaining their savings. Most women are open to seeking advice, accept their shortcomings, and make amends when necessary. This attitude helps them in taking charge as an independent force.

They indeed are, say experts

Meredith Jones, author of the book Women of the Street: Why Female Money Managers Generate Higher Returns (And How You Can Too), advises the inclusion of more female managers. In a study conducted by Vanguard in 2009 with 2.7 million IRA investors, it was found that during the financial crisis in 2007-2008, 13% of losses were faced by accounts led by women, whereas accounts handled by men lost 16%. The pattern of more gains in portfolios of female finance managers also held in the case of hedge funds. From January 2000 to May 2009, 9.06% of profits were gained by hedge funds owned by women, compared to 5.82% for the combined hedge fund index, as stated in the Hedge Fund Research.

Looking at the bright side

To look brightly at the given Coronavirus crisis at hand, this presents an opportunity for women to hone their natural leading abilities. With a need to save beyond the expenditure front, families are struggling to arrange for food and other items, as an indefinite number of days are spent quarantined. This circumstance grants a window for women to work on their financial decision-making skills.

Female talent still remains one of the most underutilized business resources, and we don’t need statistics to prove it. It is high time that women are valued, not looked down upon, and given equal chances as their male counterparts. It is necessary to look at what female innate attributes bring to the table and identify them as worthy.

We do not have only one female finance minister, we have millions of them. There resides one in every house, let’s nurture them and help them grow.

[1] India’s devastating gender gap made even worse by coronavirus economic crisis
[2] India’s devastating gender gap made even worse by coronavirus economic crisis
[3] India’s devastating gender gap made even worse by coronavirus economic crisis
7 Reasons Women Make Better Money Managers Than Men

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