Women and Finance

Women’s Struggle for Financial Independence

By Siyana Shefeek

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For centuries, women have been kept away from the opportunity of being a part of the workforce, forced to not be able to achieve financial independence. A woman couldn’t even hold a bank account or a mortgage without a male guarantor, in their own right (yeah, even in countries like the US and UK).

Fast forward to the last 50 years, they have been included in market activities but women are still at a disadvantage with the compensation for their work, compared to their male colleagues. P.S. Her increased difficulty in getting employed post-pregnancy remains to this day in most countries. No new news there.

Stats show that this gap has reduced over the past 40 years, but women still earn 15% less than their male counterparts. This has caused a crack on women’s confidence when it comes to their financial independence.

The gender gap issue usually takes root from the point of her upbringing. Women often tend to be less involved in a family’s financial discussions and decision making processes in most parts of the world, even to this day.

This culture, according to the US Department of education, has resulted in about 3.8 million women in America alone possessing below-average financial literacy skills – that means it’s difficult for them to understand even basic financial documents like bank statements and credit card statements.

Not to forget, how women all across the globe were (and in some regions still are) traditionally expected to give up their day jobs after marriage to care for their family and stick to housekeeping. This left them with very little savings for their retirement days and forced complete dependence on their spouses or male family members for financial support.

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The consequences of this behaviour does not stop at women’s lack of financial standing. History repeatedly proves how this dependence on male guardians for financial support has led to many cases of domestic violence and abuse against women as they felt necessary to put themselves through such vulnerable situations to ensure their very survival.

However, along the years, women have seen the bigger picture and have risen to make a change for themselves and the upcoming generations in this regard. Morgan Newman, a financial advisor, speaker and feminist, is one such advocate for female financial independence.

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Her blog NYC Money Mavens highlights and provides solutions to these everyday financial struggles women face, and emphasizes how millennial women, despite the countless achievements to this date, is still no exception.

Morgan tells us how we can learn some essential financial skills right at home, from our homemakers – surprising? She takes us back to how learning from her mom, her blogging partner and a financial advisor by profession, taught her some fundamental household finances management skills quite early on in life.

“Women home-makers tend to be great at budgeting and know exactly how much it costs to run a home. This journey to financial independence teaches you a lot about financial adulting – from not being wasteful when buying food, keeping track of bills & payments, and eliminating unnecessary expenses.”

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Today’s working woman however, seems to be facing a struggle different than those before her. She isn’t very aware of what to do with the wealth she has accumulated over her career, where to invest and how to grow it.

This is where Morgan mainly focuses her work – real financial guidance for the modern women’s real life, to educate and empower her finances. This includes how to handle everyday necessities like- deciding which IRA is best for you, adapting your financial moves to the post- COVID market, how to deal with unemployment and more.  

In a nutshell, women have come a long way with their struggles, protests and most importantly hard work in educating themselves and producing quality work on a global level today. However, the fact remains that they are yet to receive the same level of financial training and motivation as their male counterparts do, regarding understanding and growing their money. 

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