Break the Taboo, the Benefits of Women and Financial Independence
When searching “how financial independence benefits women,” it was a shock to see the Google’s top search was: “how financial independence causes divorce.”
A lot of eyebrows raise when Pakistanis talk about financial independence. They rise even higher when you talk about financially independent women. Myths around financial independence and women include it leads to divorce, a compromised character, and even being a bad mother.
Pakistan’s social culture is built around family. It is the norm for many generations to live under one roof. Children (usually sons) take on a parent’s role (usually a father) as provider when their parents get too old to work.
Women not earning money is also an accepted norm. The expectation is that fathers, brothers, and husbands will be providing for them.
Today, a single income in any household, is stretched excruciatingly thin. Everything is getting more expensive thanks to global inflation. This means financial pressure is becoming increasingly common ground between people.
But still, women earning, and that too earning money which they themselves have a stake in, is a taboo. In fact, it's not farfetched to say this taboo touches all socioeconomic classes. Those who have the choice to work and take it, and those that fight for it, are viewed with suspicion and mistrust.
But what exactly is financial independence?
For some women, it is earning money through employment or business. They may have the ability to make their own financial decisions or be able to sustain themselves and their family with what she earns.
For some women, like homemakers who do not earn through employment, it means that they have money that is theirs to make decisions with.
Yes, some women who have gained independence in Pakistan’s patriarchal culture and family customs may break away from relationships. They may finally have the means to escape abuse, including financial abuse, maltreatment and unhappy marriage and home situations. However, women earning has been proven to strengthen families.
Research shows when women earn, that money and the skills built from earning and managing it, benefit not only her but her entire family and ecosystem. Financially independent women can play valuable role models for their children teaching them about money management and even breaking gender biases around money and earning it.
Women who earn and contribute to their homes ease the burden off of their partners or other family members. It’s simple math, more money in, more ability to tackle life’s obligations. More income in the house means bolstering savings, and emergency funds. It can also mean being able to make more financial decisions like investments.
Financial independence and being self-reliant have been linked with confidence in women. Confidence in their ability to manage and provide for themselves or their family has a ripple effect on children and other people in the home.
But it’s more than families who benefit. When women get the agency to work it strengthens an entire country’s economic health.