Financial success is supported by inclusive access to financial products and information should be available for everyone.
In today’s financial scene a key factor to consider is to look at how gender diversity influences women’s capabilities in personal finance. In this article, we dive into how gender role perceptions create financial roadblocks for women and how to be proactive about each challenge.
Women are typically the primary caregivers. As such, women are more likely to take time off work, take lesser work shifts, quit employment, and such, to take care of children. This ultimately affects their financial future by delaying or cancelling their professional growth.
In due course, this translates into reduced income for the household that forces cutbacks and more financial strain where one has to borrow money, in order to meet household needs.
Professionally, this poses a barrier to opportunities that enable possibilities to earn more money through job advancements, payable overtime, or extra job shifts.
Word-Of-Advice: Remember this point focuses on how you efficiently cater to your dependant and you, as a caregiver. Therefore, start by writing out your current professional responsibilities and goals, then write the same for your current caregiving responsibilities. This way you can determine how much goes into your caregiving expenses and how it affects your savings and other financial goals.
In contrast to point 1, this point goes beyond caregiving. That means we’re diving into the broader aspects of being a professional woman, in addition to roles as a wife, mother and other feminine responsibilities of taking care of a household.
Without a doubt, all responsibilities listed are crucial, and attempting to balance yourself across all roles runs the risk of earning yourself down. That typically causes emotional, mental, and financial pressure, especially when one needs to attend to home tasks such as cooking supper, laundry, and getting the kids ready for school, which often affects the types of jobs available and how much time one can spend at work and outside of work.
Word-Of-Advice: Don’t beat yourself over not pleasing everyone. No one sane expects you to be wonder woman.
First, be honest about whether you're taking on too much or slacking off in order to avoid doing something, being unconcerned, etc. Then make the honest decision to determine how much you need to invest in yourself to achieve your financial and lifestyle goals. For example, if you require additional training to advance your job skills, consider alternating your weekends between weekend classes and spending time with your family.
Read Also: How to Create Life Balance as a Working Mom
Some may not know this, but to some extent, women are more likely to be denied financial products such as loans or be given smaller amounts in financial institutions.
Even today, when corporations and financial institutions have taken strides to avail men and women equal opportunities - women trying to take advantage of financial products still face this hurdle and don’t have access to resources to get ahead.
Take, for instance, if you’re a stay-at-home, a freelancer, or on part-time employment, the lack of steady income often labels you as a “high-risk applicant”, especially without a guarantor.
Here’s why – a guarantor is responsible for paying back your entire loan when you can’t. Without a guarantor (which is hard enough to get anyone on board). Consequently, this deters creditors from approving loans.
Word-Of-Advice: Consider low-risk credit options – like borrowing from trusted friends or family members for flexible repayment options and the peace of mind that comes from support from people whom you like and trust. This way you can be practical about building your wealth at your pace.
Another option is to consider the no securities required loan options, like mobile money service loans, which have better interest rates and lower loan amounts to match your budget. Moreover, you avoid the messiness of involving money and friends/family.
This financial roadblock is experienced where income is significantly low. This leads to delayed payments, acquired debt, and significant lifestyle cutbacks; especially where one doesn’t earn at all or enough to match any available income.
For example, many women are financially dependent on their male spouses or rely on alimony in the event of divorce, putting them at a significant disadvantage. Here's how it works: financial decisions are based on the consistency and amount allocated by another party. That instance, if the male partner or ex-spouse dies, becomes incompetent, or refuses to offer financial support, as a result, strained relationships, financial deadlock, and other difficulties occur.
Word-Of-Advice: Before you choose to combine your and your partner’s finances – have the key discussions regarding money matters. This is to establish clear financial goals and responsibilities for each partner.
In situations where these important discussions were skipped – get to it asap! Have you and your partner scheduled a time to run through each person’s finances? Remember, this is a continuous conversation. Each conversation should be respectful and honest, for individual and shared financial goals to be outlined, mapped out, and achieved.
Another way to do so is to be proactive about your financial literacy. Learn about low-income/no-income financial growth opportunities tailored specifically for women.
Also, work with a financial advisor to create a custom financial plan to help you maximise any income earned. For instance – take the time to talk to a financial representative at your bank or Sacco. It's a free consultation and all you need to be is honest, and follow through accordingly.
To expound on this challenge, let’s dive into the other socio-cultural issues that continue to impede women’s financial well-being. That means cultural attitudes that negatively influence how one earns and spends to maintain a quality lifestyle.
Take for instance the narrow road to get into the c-suite or c-level (which is a term used to describe high-ranking executive titles in an organisation. The letter C, in this context, stands for "chief," like a chief executive officer, chief communications officer, etc.)
It’s not easy for anyone to climb the corporate ladder but overall this is particularly more difficult for women. As such there are harmful attitudes that have led to women not being taken seriously for leadership roles. Consequently, women are pigeonholed into ‘female-only jobs’ hindering many from job advancement opportunities, which have the potential to pay well, and learn more.
Take, for instance, the cultural assumption that a woman cannot effectively take lead at work and in their private life because of work-life commitments. Often, women are assumed to eventually take on the role of mother and wife, which is an outcome viewed as unreliability from a staffing point of view. Unfortunately, leading to higher priority consideration of men who are viewed as more ‘dependable’.
Don't try to fix people. Attitudes and beliefs are ingrained in an individual and the only person who can is the person themselves.
The silver lining is that in spite of all the sociocultural roadblocks, choose to always act with a purpose. Set an uplifting healthy goal for each day. Stretch yourself past your limits every day and seek out those who are positive and disciplined about their well-being.
For example someone you respect who's organised and more often than not, achieves their set goals.
Learn to prioritise your value and well-being for a mind-over-matter approach to the good, the bad & the ugly of life.
Here's one: if your regular job is causing more harm than good. Consider working part-time to save money and give yourself more time.
Naturally, the first step in addressing any challenge is to be aware of it. Then can you determine the reason for the challenge and be practical about solving it.
Now, ask yourself, are the roadblocks self-inflicted or external? In either case - your proactive choice is required for your financial and overall well-being.