Beyond the Glass Ceiling: This International Women's Day Shatter Financial Barriers

Mar 06, 2024 / Reading Time: Approx. 10 mins

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Beyond the Glass Ceiling: This International Women's Day Shatter Financial Barriers

With time, women have upheld their mettle in every field, be it running the household successfully or running an organisation in full power. Thanks to education, technology, skill development, and, above all, the spirit to do something in life, women are rising above societal hurdles and breaking the shackles of patriarchy.

In 1975, the United Nations designated March 8th as International Women's Day to recognise women's cultural, political, social, and economic achievements. The theme of International Women's Day 2024 will focus on 'Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress' targeting economic disempowerment.

[Read: Women's Day Special: How Women Can Ensure Their Financial Wellbeing]

While strides have been made, a significant portion of working women in India still face several systemic barriers hindering their financial empowerment. That said, many women fail to plan for their own financial needs, thereby creating a glass ceiling.

The majority of women are no longer financially dependent on their partners as they once were. Despite achieving personal and financial milestones, women still struggle with managing their investments effectively.

So, this International Women's Day, which falls on March 8th, 2024, we're not just celebrating achievements, we're shattering financial barriers and assisting women to bloom through the challenges confidently and embark on the path to financial freedom.

This isn't just another financial planning article. Consider this a personal note from me to you, a nudge to remind you of the incredible strength and potential you hold. You see, financial freedom isn't a destination reserved for a select few. It's a journey waiting to be embarked upon, and I want you to be the captain of your ship.

So, let's ditch the overwhelm and get you started on building the life you deserve - one empowered financial decision at a time.

Dear Ladies!

Navigating the world of finance can feel intimidating, I'm here to talk about something crucial, something that concerns every single one of us - our financial future.

We all know the importance of earning a good income, but I want to bring your attention to a powerful element often overlooked, and that is - prudent investment planning.

Let's be honest ladies, finances can feel like a complex space filled with jargons, charts, and confusing terms, which can leave you feeling lost and intimidated. But listen up - as Michelle Obama says - 'There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish' We are more capable than we think.

[Read: This Women's Day, Take a Pledge to Avoid These Mistakes When Managing Money]

Building our financial security isn't some unattainable dream; it's an achievable reality. Think about it this way: earning money is like planting seeds. It's a fantastic first step, but to truly flourish, we need to nurture those seeds with smart investment planning.

'A woman's best protection is a little money of her own.' - Clare Booth Luce, American author and US ambassador.

Investing allows your money to work for you. Over time, through the power of compounding, your initial investments can grow significantly, even when you start small. The returns that you may earn from your worthy investments are a passive income that fuels your future goals, be it a dream vacation, a house, a comfortable retirement, or simply the peace of mind that comes with financial security.

But before we dive into the exciting world of investments, let's address some common barriers that women face:

  • Lack of Financial Literacy: Embrace the learning process, ask questions, and do not hesitate to seek help from friends, family, or financial advisors who can guide you based on your specific needs and goals. Knowledge is power. Start small by educating yourself on basic financial concepts. There are countless resources available - books, online articles, webinars - all designed to demystify finance.

    India's first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, once said, "If you educate a man, you educate an individual; however, if you educate a woman, you educate a family." Ladies if you are financially literate, you can effectively become a financial guardian for your family and help them make informed financial decisions rather than depend on someone for guidance.

  • The Gender Pay Gap: It's a real concern, and unfortunately, it exists. But let's not let it deter us. Negotiate your salary confidently, acknowledge your worth, and know that you deserve fair compensation for your contributions.

    It is important to recognise the value of your skills and experience; by negotiating fair and equal pay, you can break through the gender wealth gap and achieve financial equality that will enhance your financial situation.

    [Read: 7 Ways to Break Through the Gender Wealth Gap]

  • Career Breaks: Women play varied roles -a dutiful daughter, a wife, a caring mother, and so on. Along with this, many are building a career in their chosen field, making their mark, and supporting their families financially.

    Women often take career breaks for childcare or family commitments. Societal expectations may have pushed financial planning to the back burner, or income gaps due to career breaks may leave you with less capital in hand. However, investing wisely in worthy instruments can help offset the career gaps, ensuring you financial security during such periods.

Now, let's get down to business and look at suitable investment options for you! Remember, the foundation of financial freedom is solid budgeting - track your income and expenses every month, identify areas where you can cut back and free up resources for investment. Even small amounts saved consistently can create a significant nest egg over time.

[Read: 10 Powerful Ways for Women to Grow Their Wealth and Achieve Financial Freedom]

Invest Wisely: Your Key to Growth

I know you might think investing involves risk, but keeping your money as cash under the mattress or in a savings bank or in any investment instrument that cannot even beat inflation may be counted as saving, but it is not an efficient way of wealth creation.

In India, women now have various opportunities to park their funds. An important point before looking at the various options is to define S.M.A.R.T financial goals and start investing at the earliest. Two factors that work in investing are returns and time. While returns that an asset generates are not in our hands, we can try to make the best by investing as early as possible.

Mutual Fund SIPs: Investing Made Easy

Systematic Investment Plans (SIPs) in mutual funds are a fantastic way to invest regularly without a huge sum of money. You don't need a hefty sum to begin. Start with a small regular investment of Rs 500/- per month and gradually increase it as your income grows. Remember, consistency is key.

Setting up an SIP instils discipline and encourages regular saving. Over time, with the help of rupee-cost averaging, your SIP purchases units at different price points, potentially averaging the cost of investment and reducing risk.

Begin investing as early as possible, align it with your desired goals, and you will see your investments grow, benefiting from the power of compounding and accelerating your wealth creation. There will be market fluctuations, but don't panic! Stick to your investment plan and ride out the temporary dips.

There are various types of Mutual Fund SIPs to choose from. Consider your investment horizon (short-term, long-term) and risk appetite (conservative, aggressive) before selecting any scheme.

Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana

To address the concerns about women's financial needs, the Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana in 2015. It is a government-endorsed social scheme that was developed as a part of the 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' initiative.

This plan enables a parent or a guardian to open a Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana account in the name of a girl child aged ten or under, aiming to accumulate funds for her future needs (education, wedding expenses, etc). SSY is a government-backed saving scheme designed for the equal rights and betterment of the girl child in India.

You can invest up to Rs 1.5 lakhs per year per girl child, and this scheme is eligible for deduction under section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

Besides this, there are a few other important factors that you may consider.

  • Build an emergency fund, which includes 6-12 months of expenses, including loan EMIs. It creates a safety net for you and helps maintain financial stability during unforeseen exigencies.

  • Purchase an adequate insurance cover for yourself to prevent unnecessary loss of money in emergencies. There are several life and health insurance policies available; choose wisely based on your requirements. This will help fulfil the financial needs of your loved ones in your absence.

  • Due to a number of barriers specific to women, the process of saving and investing money that you may need in your golden years can be delayed or derailed. You need to understand that to have a sufficient retirement corpus, you must start planning for it in the initial earning stages of your life.

Taking charge of your finances can feel empowering. Remember, you are capable, you are strong, and you deserve to build a secure future for yourself. So, let's ditch the financial backseat and learn to be the drivers of our own financial journey.

So together, on this International Women's Day, let's shatter the glass ceiling and overcome common barriers by embracing smart investment strategies, enhancing financial literacy and seeking guidance to create a future where women are earning, achieving success and investing wisely, to build a secure future for themselves and their families.

Millions of women are actively working towards financial empowerment, and countless resources and communities exist to support you. The future is yours to claim!

As I conclude this conversation, remember it is written by one woman to another, cheering you on every step of the way. Take charge, invest in yourself, and build a future as powerful and independent as you are.

'Don't wait for someone to build your security. Build your own.' - Serena Williams

Wishing you all lovely ladies a very Happy Women's Day!

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MITALI DHOKE is a Research Analyst at PersonalFN. She is an MBA (Finance) and a post-graduate in commerce (M. Com). She focuses primarily on covering articles around mutual funds including NFOs, financial planning and fixed-income products. Mitali holds an overall experience of 4 years in the financial services industry.
She also actively contributes towards content creation for PersonalFN’s social media platforms in the endeavour to educate investors and enhance their financial knowledge.


Disclaimer: Investment in securities market are subject to market risks, read all the related documents carefully before investing.
This article is for information purposes only and is not meant to influence your investment decisions. It should not be treated as a mutual fund recommendation or advice to make an investment decision in the above-mentioned schemes.

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