Jagriti Shankar, an experienced Gender and Development professional, recently met with the women of Yuvabe to discuss the importance of financial literacy.
Through her work in the domain of gender and advocacy, Jagriti realised that having the knowledge and agency over one’s finances is a huge contributor towards women empowerment. This has led her to give workshops to urge more women to take charge of their financial wellbeing.
Jagriti commenced her workshop by inquiring about the primary decision-makers regarding financial matters within our households. It was observed that in most cases, either both parents or just the fathers, took charge of financial decisions - especially those pertaining to investments.
Why it is important for Women to Save & Invest
Jagriti spoke about why she believes that investment knowledge should be brought to more women; how the current system that we live in, already make it very difficult for women to grow financially. Some examples of this are:
❖ Stereotypes and Financial Exclusion. Traditionally, in many societies across the globe, women are kept away from money matters. This in turn, diminishes women, limiting their independence.
❖ Different earning cycles. Till date, only a few governments in the world have made it mandatory for companies to grant their employees proper paid maternity leaves or equal paternity and maternity leaves, making early childhood care the responsibility of the mother. This put them several steps behind their male counterparts, both professionally and financially, changing their patters of earning, saving, and investing.
❖ Lesser financial opportunities. Due to issues of gender pay gap, limited networks, and challenges in providing collateral, women often find themselves at the short end of the stick when it comes to accessing credit facilities.
❖ Limited Inheritance. To this day, women find themselves getting limited inheritance due to the patriarchal nature of inheritance laws, not just in India but in many other countries.
❖ Longer life span. Across the globe, women have longer life spans than men, making it more important for them to have better financial planning for their later years!
Saving vs. Investing
While everyone in the team unanimously acknowledged the importance of having a savings account and being a diligent saver (or aspiring to being one!) not everyone was familiar with the concept of investing.
Jagriti discussed inflation rates and how while savings accounts are a great tool, they don’t necessarily keep up with the value of money, which gradually diminishes each year.
Investments on the other hand, are market dependent. The money we allocate to them, therefore, is able to keep up with the inflation rate.
Become a S.M.A.R.T investor
Jagriti emphasised on the importance of making SMART Investments, i.e investments that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timed. For example, instead of “I want to buy a car” as a goal, a better, smarter goal would be “I want to save 20,000 per month in order to buy a second-hand car in one year”. This was a great tip and will definitely be used by our team!
Aligning investments with short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals, and strategically measuring these objectives in financial terms by working backward, is the key to making good financial decisions. We also discussed the importance of time and the magic of compound interest!
Where to invest?
In her talk, Jagriti mentioned Mutual Funds as currently the safest, most low risk investment option that the women in the team can begin with as a starting point. Some women in the team also spoke about their reservations about unwittingly investing in morally bankrupt companies as part of their mutual fund, and wanted to learn about becoming a more conscious, responsible investor. Jagriti mentioned that to have such control over their investments, though ideal, requires a great deal of research and time. Thankfully, as more and more people become more conscious, there is greater access to such information online.
We also spoke of other ways of investing, with gold being the oldest, most traditional and popular in India!
This workshop has encouraged many young women to start taking charge of their earnings and begin the journey of becoming an investor.
Money and investment should not be viewed as the exclusive domain of a specific group of individuals, nor should they be determined by one's gender or educational background. Saving, investing, and, most importantly, gaining awareness of one's finances is a skillset that is vital for all individuals to acquire and apply.
We thank Jagriti for making time to speak to our youth about this very important topic and hope to have many more such informative sessions with her in the near future!