For 109 years we have been celebrating International Women’s Day on 8 March, and I thought it would be fitting to reflect on what it means to be a woman today in terms of our financial choices and financial health.
Women’s lives have changed remarkably, thanks to moments like International Women’s Day and amazing women and men who have fought for equality for all. But I think it’s a good idea for us women who have careers, or are studying, and who do have money (however much) to reflect on whether we are independent and powerful when it comes to our personal finances.
So, I ask all women to think today: are you in charge of your money and all your financial decisions? Possibly many of us are, given that we are reading Just One Lap. But are we completely in control? Does all your property have your name on the paperwork? Do you have your own bank account that no one else can access without your consent? Next time you buy a new car, will it be your decision or do you leave that up to someone else to decide? Are decisions about how you spend your salary, made by you? Sure, in a family we discuss and negotiate but you do need to have decision-making authority over your salary.
If you are lucky enough to answer ‘Yes’ to all my questions above, then I’d like to ask you to reflect on how you might support the women around you to achieve similar financial freedom. Can you support your mother, sister, domestic worker or colleague to be more financially savvy and independent? Can you support her to protect herself financially?
And no, I’m not suggesting that we should never discuss finances, quite the opposite; families and partners should talk about money. Everyone should have a voice in financial decisions that affect them. At the same time, we should respect that each person can make independent decisions when needed. Yes, we should learn from each other and negotiate but at the end of the day we should all be financially independent.
In this week of International Women’s Day let’s also take a moment to reflect on what we are modelling to our children. Do we discuss financial decision making with our girls (and our boys)? Do we role-model a financially savvy woman for her to follow? Do the boys see mom making great financial decisions? Do men and dads role model joint decision-making? Please let’s build a nation of financially savvy women!
In my next column, I am going to reflect on ‘the lessons I learnt from my mother’ and check in on how well, or not, I am practicing them.