Women of India Leadership Summit…Taking a look at Women and Finances

By Monika Halan
Mint, New Delhi.

They don’t look insecure. They look as if they have it all together. Confident, contemporary, urban Indian women. Professionals all of them.

But speaking at the Women of India Leadership Summit last week, I understood that the facade hid deep feelings of insecurity about money.

In fact, it was the feeling of financial insecurity that bound the panel and audience alike.

Women said they felt insecure about living in homes that did not belong to them, but to the in-laws or to an HUF (Hindu Undivided Family).

They said that they felt insecure because they needed the husband to agree before they could do anything — from going on a vacation to setting up a business.

They felt a loss of independence due to lack of control over their financial lives. Finance and numbers intimidated them. And they wished for greater control.

Listening to their stories told me that financial insecurity remains the biggest threat to women — especially to those in their 40s and 50s.

The first flush of youth is long gone, as are the high emotions of a new marriage, and the whirlwind years of babies, school and all that consume women in the high energy years of raising a family and managing a career.

The dust, as they say, settles. Assets have been bought over the past 15 years, and life has fallen into a pattern. That’s when it hits them: they are no longer in control of their lives financially!

I was the odd one out. In control, not only of my finances, but that of the extended family. Given the control I have of the money, I interpret my duty of care to ensure that insurance policies are in place and not only are funds invested judiciously but also that information about what assets, in whose names and the location of the documents is shared.

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