Spending Scenarios among Indian Women: All about Financial Stability!

With an extensive experience of more than two decades in the field of Media & HR, Sonal started her journey with Times group and today she is the Country Manager of GI Group Holding India. Sonal's key expertise spans from business planning & strategy to P&L growth & operations. Thus, she boasts high energy & dynamic skills & knowledge to boost business growth. Sonal enjoys building businesses and high performing teams and has experience in leading diverse, cross-functional teams.

1. In the male dominating society of India where women rely on men for money decisions as women have very less or no knowledge about finance, although women have steadily started to make place in finance industry, yet they are partially or fully dependent on men & family, so has the financial status of women improved from what it was earlier?

It is evident that in India, financial decisions are predominantly made by men. While there has been some progress in recent years, but we have still a long way to go. Even though more and more women are joining the work-force after completing their education but the overall participation of women in the workforce has not improved significantly as women also tend to leave the workforce mid-career due to reasons of marriage, maternity and other family priorities. Moreover, even among working women, there's a tendency to delegate financial decision-making to other family members, with a focus primarily on saving rather than proactive investment. This highlights a societal need for further efforts in empowering women to take charge of their financial matters.

2. Breaking the stereotypes means changing the mindset and taking the charge of life in one’s hand, do you think today’s women can BREAK ALL THE TABOOS and form a new independent world when it comes to personal finance.

We're witnessing a growing desire among women to take charge of their lives, including their financial affairs. However, we cannot expect this change to come about in a few years or organically on its own. It requires concerted efforts from government, society, and financial institutions alike. We need to focus on better information dissemination and imparting financial literacy in our schools are colleges. Additionally, simplifying financial services and products can make them more accessible and understandable for everyone.

Furthermore, it's essential to have female role models who are already financially independent and adept at managing their finances. These women can inspire and empower others, paving the way for greater financial independence among women overall. We also need women who are already financially independent and managing their own finances to act as role models and encourage and enable other women, This collective effort can remove the obstacles to financial independence of women and put them on a path of self-reliance and control of their finances.

3. In terms of personal finance, what mistake women commit frequently? Explain in detail

One common mistake which not just women but at times men also make is confusing saving with investing. We tend to think just because we are saving a significant part of our monthly salary, we are automatically securing our future financially. We ignore the aspect of inflation and don’t realize that unless we can earn returns on our savings the real value of our savings diminishes on an ongoing basis. The other mistake we make is investing only in fixed deposits or other similar traditional instruments which fail to outpace inflation rate. We must make the effort to understand various financial products and investment options available today and take an informed decision based on our risk tolerance and life-stage.

Education and awareness campaigns will go a long way in igniting in women not only the desire to become financially independent but also in imparting the required knowledge and understanding of various financial concepts, products and options available to them

4. It is believed that technology and gadgets are very much in need for a smooth finance management. But, MOBILE GENDER GAP REPORT 2023 found that women are 19% less likely than men to use mobile internet, in this case how can women manage and keep a track on their personal finance?

While women may currently lag behind men in mobile internet usage, our primary focus for fostering financial independence among women should be on prioritizing financial literacy and raising awareness about the life changing impact of being financial independence. Mobile internet availability will help but it’s a secondary enabler by empowering women to take control of their finances, the demand for mobile internet access is likely to naturally increase, driving improvements in accessibility over time.

5. Share us your perspective on requirement of good education and information packed programs and workshops for women to gain power over personal finance.

Undoubtedly, education and awareness campaigns will go a long way in igniting in women not only the desire to become financially independent but also in imparting the required knowledge and understanding of various financial concepts, products and options available to them. It’s crucial to emphasize the collective responsibility of government bodies, educational institutions, financial entities, and product providers in driving this societal transformation. Through concerted efforts across these sectors, we can empower women with the financial acumen needed to pursue their economic goals confidently.

6. Do you think women financial literacy is very important for economic growth and India’s bright future? Briefly explain

Currently, women contribute approximately 18% to India's GDP, with a female labor force participation rate of 37%. However, for India's economy to truly thrive and build resilience, it's imperative to increase the contribution of women across various economic spheres, including the workforce, investing, asset creation, and ownership. A nation cannot achieve robust financial growth if a significant portion of its population is underrepresented and lacks social agency. There are numerous examples highlighting the positive impact of women's enhanced participation in economic activities on overall economic growth and national development. For instance, Japan's "womenomics" initiative, launched nearly a decade ago, aimed to boost women's employment and empowerment, showcasing the transformative power of gender inclusivity in driving economic progress. For India to become a $5 trillion economy, it is critical to reduce the gender disparities within the economic landscape. This can significantly contribute to the nation's growth and development trajectory.