Got into a debate of sorts about ‘women in the workforce’ and ‘financial independence’. Here’s my 2 cents on it.
I’ve come to believe women MUST work outside the home – at a paying job. Because having a steady income is the most empowering tool for a woman. It entitles her to a voice of her own. It enables her to stand up for herself. To make her own choices.
I was brought up with the notion that money doesnt matter, money is just incidental – it lets you pay the bills. Money cant buy you happiness. But I’ve seen that it sure comes darn close.
A woman who has her own money, get’s that bit of ‘extra’ respect vs a dependent wife or a SAHM. That income is the first step for her to be counted as a ‘contributing’ member of society. An individual. Otherwise, she’s “just a wife”, “just a mom” and not an independent identity. I wish it were different. But it is so painfully ingrained in the society and world that we live in. And if that’s the only way we can be counted – well, then lets.
Yes, there are husbands and families that respect the wife, the mother, and treat the woman as an ‘equal’. But very rare. And if you dig deeper, even in the most ‘gender equal’ families and people, you’ll unearth the hidden biases. Deep rooted. Camouflaged.
Our society has a long way to go for true gender equality.
Till then, the women have to stand up and be counted on the same grounds as men. Because that’s the criteria that men, and hence society uses to measure ‘contribution’ by. No one puts a measurable value, or even vague renumerative value for the hard work women put in at home – the countless thankless hours spent cooking and cleaning and keeping house; making sure everyone has clean ironed clothes; feeding and burping the baby a hundred times a day; or staying up nights when anyone in the house is sick. She does it out of love. She is rewarded with well, a grunt, or maybe a thank you, or a dinner out once in a while.
I believe it’s much more important for a woman to be financially literate – and independent – as compared to men. It gives her the option to meet life on her own terms. To stand up for herself. In all her relationships. In the worst case, it gives her the choice to walk out of an abusive relationship. That she doesnt have to be dependent on the whims of others – be it spouse, parents or inlaws. While a man gets that freedom inherently as a right in our society, for women, its the financial freedom that buys her all the other freedoms. Or maybe it’s that way for men too. Just that most men anyways work outside the house and earn money.
Along side, I believe that a woman should take time out from her career when she has kids – ideally, I’d say a year or two – but I also believe that it’s equally important to get back into the workforce and be counted.