Financial freedom and women

A few years back, when we were living in Bangalore, I had a maid with whom I used to converse with a mixture of Tamil, few words of Kannada and sign language.

She was a single mother, with two children, one daughter and one son. The daughter being the eldest. She had an abusive marriage and had opted to throw her husband out and he was made to stay away by her helpful neighbors. She made their ends meet by working as a maid in lots of households like ours. Once she was talking about how she wanted so much more for her daughter. She explained that she wanted her daughter to be independent, financially free, so that she never needed to depend on anybody else. She went on to explain that she understood that not everybody can be a doctor or an engineer, but everybody should be capable of living by themself and looking after themselves and their dependents, if need be. I was surprised to hear that clarity of thought from her. Having gone through all sorts of trouble herself, she had realized what was most important for her daughter to be happy in her life. She had plans of educating her daughter, who was then in high school and get her some sort of vocational training, that would hold her in good stead. I remember being very impressed by her far sightedness and her determination to learn from her situation and to ensure that her daughter is better prepared for life.

Some time back a close friend had been going through some difficulties in her marriage. She was trying everything to make it work, and the one thing that she says, kept her going was her sense of self-worth. She knew that she was not in a desperate condition.Β  She knew that she could start from scratch – if need be. She had that confidence and one of the biggest reasons was that she knew that she was self-sufficient. She did not need to depend on anybody to live a decent life. She was not worried about her parents not taking her back or the society – mainly because she was independent.

I remember having a conversation with someone about the need to make sure that girls are made self sufficient before getting them married off. This person was almost offended. She asked me, why on earth does a woman need to bother about all these things, when she has her father and brother(s) before marriage and her husband after marriage to look after her. It was explained to me that it was attitudes such as mine that caused trouble in the first place. If women knew their place, apparently the need to be self sufficient would never arise! I had mentioned earlier as well, how a family, who should have learnt from their experience, but chose to send their daughter down the same path.

It really made me wonder that the logic which my maid was so clear about, was still so difficult for some people to understand. If every parent, instead of worrying about a daughter’s dowry, brought her up instilling a sense of confidence in her, giving her the tools to stand on her own feet, telling her that she need not be dependent on anybody, half the issues that women face today, would not exist.

My dad always says, ‘Hope for the best, and prepare for the worst’. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Today, I am not a working woman, but I know that I can take care of my family if I need to. I know that I can handle finances, I know that I will not need to depend on anybody else. Preparing our daughters to be in a position to accept whatever life throws at her and not end up a victim? We cannot prepare for everything, but surely we can give our children the confidence that they can handle everything?

This is my entry for the Indusladies International Women’s Day Blog Contest.

As per the rules, I would like to tag GM, Deeps and Saksh.

54 thoughts on “Financial freedom and women

  1. You tagged me? *faint and in coma till next year same day*

    *sprinkling some snow hoping to wake up Sakshi * So now have you turned into Sleeping beauty? Shall I send the frog prince to wake you up πŸ˜‰

  2. You have given very good examples for being self-sufficient, Smitha. I had a maid who worked for 18 years in our house. She is an illiterate. But she tried her best to educate her 4 children. The 2 girls were smart by failed in classes and stopped. But the boys somehow with lots of tuitions completed 10th. Now, the boys are van drivers. One girl married a sensible person and her children are going to Kendriya vidyalaya. Only the other girl is facing some trouble. But the 3 of the children are in a reasonably good position because of the mother’s sincere effort to educate them. She too was working in 6 houses!

    We see so many people like this, don’t we? 6 houses – it must have been such a tough life for her. Who have understood this from their own bitter experiences.. Yet people who are better off, refuse to realize that their daughters could be in a bad situation tomorrow and the only way to help them is to ensure that they are self sufficient.

  3. nice post & very apt too .. yeah,financial (and) emotional independence is something all women need.. and the reason your maid has so much clarity in her thot is becos she has seen it all !!..

    I agree. She has seen it and chose to learn from it. The person in this post - chose to hope that her daughter does not have to go through it – but refused to equip her to deal with it

  4. Very apt. I think Independence works both ways…most of us women allow our husband and kids to become totally dependent on us, thus burdening otherselves and also making them unprepared for unforseen circumstances.

    I totally agree, Meira. Independence works both ways! Your point is very valid.

  5. Absolutely, Smitha. If we empower our children, make them confident, they can surely be more prepared for whatevr is in store!

    And to add to what Meira has said, I think many women enjoy the dependency of husband/children on them, as they feel more important that way. But it hardly helps. Kids are anyway going to outgrow parents soon enough. And it only confines women to the home or kitchen when they could do so much more with that time!

    • I totally agree. Women need to understand that once they start enjoying the dependency, the moment the dependency goes, they will feel at loose ends. In fact a lot of women get frustrated and depressed when children leave their homes – empty nest syndrome. ‘Kids are anyway going to outgrow parents soon enough’ – absolutely!

      • My Parents always say, “We can give u the best available education and plenty of opportunities, use it wisely and never regret about anything you have done or failed to do! ”


        That makes so much sense PnA! That is what I would want to teach my daughter too.

  6. A beautiful Hopeful post :). Yes, the confidence to believe in oneself is what every human needs to get going during tough times.

    ‘the confidence to believe in oneself is what every human needs to get going during tough times.’ – the sad thing is that so many girls are brought up with the idea that somebody else is going to ‘look after’ them. I know women who proudly say that they have no clue of finances or that they have never even stepped into a bank.

  7. It’s nice to see the clarity in the maid’s thoughts even though it has to do with her bitter experiences in life. There are many who just tolerates such bitterness instead of making a decission to put an end and chart their own independed future good for themselves and their children. I have even seen many educated, financially sound women failing to make this decission and instead choose to be subdued and abused.

    I totally agree. ‘I have even seen many educated, financially sound women failing to make this decission and instead choose to be subdued and abused.’ – I have seen it too and it makes me wonder.

    Good post and good luck for the contest πŸ™‚

    Thank you.

  8. Financial independence is very important, my parents always tell me that. I really liked the clarity in your maid’s thoughts. Can only wish there were more people like her who are brave enough to get out of an abusive relationship and provide for their family on their own.

    Yes, wish there were more like her. Most people would prefer to live in an abusive relationship than take that step.

    Nice post.
    Thank you Titaxy – I loved your post!

  9. I totally agree with you…Women should strive to be their own person, independent of people around them…They should also have their own lives apart from home and office – financial independence can give them that…I also feel that financially independent women are respected more by their husbands…

    ‘They should also have their own lives apart from home and office ‘ – Absolutely! That ‘me time’ is extremely important.

    • Why is that! because they bring an extra income into the house for it’s smooth running, or will fend for themselves and neednot be bothered financially or are not letting their so called talent wasted! I don’t buy that argument.

      U know what, when I got married my neighbour uncle (I’m one of his favs) came in to advise me. He said, the same thing. So finish ur studies quickly and stand on ur feet and start working, then ur husband will also acknowledge u more! I fully understood his concern for completing my education and working….. but do that for a prize called as the husband’s increased love!

      Oh! so that’s his reaction towards his wife! mmm…: She isn’t worthwhile because she quit her well paying job to look after their two daughters instead of putting them in a creche full time! or handing them over to a maid!

      I wouldn’t want to marry a guy who thinks I’m worthless while I stay at home and am worthy while I work outside it 😦

      • I didn’t express my thoughts clearly in my previous comment…No, I didn’t mean that a husband shouldn’t respect his non-working wife, he should because she’s a human being and his wife…What I was trying to say was that he may think twice about shelling out crap if his wife were financially independent…I don’t know if it’s right or wrong, but men do view financially independent wives differently…

        I would agree with that Bones. Men would be more wary of shelling out crap when the wife is perceived to be equally strong and confident. Right or wrong – it does happen.

  10. You tagged me….. oh ho! Ha ha ha, I am so not going to be able to do a post for the contest, past the last date anyways now. I really like what your last para says, about having the choice, and that is what really really does count.

    I was really late, so sorry GM. wanted to do this post earlier, but did not have the time to jot it down 😦

    And I am saying this here, because I won’t say it on my own blog. Not all women take up the ‘good’ choices available to them. I believe that when the time comes women or for that matter even men, do what they can or want to. When adversities hit us, we do manage to brave them, one way or another. I know my grandmother on one end, who widowed at 29 with 3 daughters, worked hard, and brought them up well. On another hand is a woman, who left her husband, who was abusive(supposedly), took her two kids, and went to happily live with a married man, out of wedlock. She too is educated and could have worked, but did not. So eventually, I think its all about the choices people make, both women here did what they needed to, to handle their situation and make the best of what was available.

    I agree. Not everybody makes the right decision. And there is very little that can be done about that – that is a human failing, isn’t it? Some people are intrinsically stronger than others.

    Independence will be had by those who want it, unfortunately there are many many women who don’t want it, lean on like creepers on others, like the one I mentioned, and perpetuate the myth, that women need men to survive.It is just sad how much they discredit the abilities of all women, besides their ownselves.

    So true. I agree with you, totally on that.

    • Fully agree with u Goofy Mumma, people men and women (esp) do not take make the best use of the opportunities given to them. But they somehow make choices and manage to brave the adversities when they come.

      However, a lot the people fret and regret about the lost opportunities which brings in a whole lot of unsatisfation into their lives in later years. And add comparison to that too… Like they say a single independant woman @ 35 is the biggest threat to any housewife that age with kids and family responsibilities, simply because the other woman’s life seems more attractive then. When she was asked to study and take up a job, she always dreamed of the guy who would sweep her off her feet, her career ambition was to become the best wife !

      The idea of marriage instilled into our brains from childhood does a lot of harm… because very few elders explain the reality of life to their girl children. They give them a rosy picture, tease them a little if they day dream or blush and leave it at that… When they finally tie the knot and post honeymoon, real strikes and then there is the fall!


  11. Wonder why ur maid’s views are difficult to imbibe for those many parents in this world! Even I’ve heard that, views like mine spoil the brains/minds/ relationships/family whatever!! Can’t help laughing at that sort of an argument πŸ™‚

    Oh yes πŸ™‚ We corrupt the society, don’t we πŸ™‚

    Well said Smiths
    Thank you PnA

  12. Its wonderfully written !!! If the basic foundation for confidence, education and moral values are done properly, then there is no need to worry. Women will be self-sufficient and if need be, rise to the occasion.


    I agree totally with you on the point – just becos we are not employed somewhere, doesnt make us not caring for our home. If there is a requirement, we’ll certainly do better !!!


    Liked the clarity of mind of the maid – so many ppl can give us lessons on life – we need to keep our ears and eyes open.

    True! Our eyes and ears need to be open to it.
    All the very best for the contest !!

    Thank you and same to you πŸ™‚

  13. Sometimes I feel that people like our maids or newspaper wallah’s etc are more aware & concerned about these issues than many of the educated people. May be because they have seen the bad side of life & they have only one motive, “to have a better future for their kids.”

    So true! For them, I guess what the society says or does really does not matter as they have come to realize that when push comes to shove, only we can make a difference in our own lives..

    Gaining financial freedom should be something which should be ingrained in us it shouldn’t be a matter of choice!!

    I agree!

    A very well written post Smitha!

    Thank you Smita πŸ™‚

  14. Well said Smithu! We do need to be aware that we can stand up and support ourselves/our family when need arises. Reminds me of an incident in Vivekananda’s life. When he asks his Dad what his gift for his son is, his Dad takes him near a mirror, shows him the reflection and says, thatz my gift for u! Money and riches may not be there with us always, but the confidence that we can look after ourselves is what is most wanted no! Brilliant post!

    Wow! That was a beautiful example, Swar! So apt! Wish we had more parents like this!

  15. Agreed. I just finished commenting over on Pal’s blog, where I mentioned that between the two of you, you’ve covered the two basic tools of empowerment: education and financial freedom.

    Thank you QI.

    No one can prepare children for everything, but giving them the confidence to face any situation is the best thing one can do.

    I agree, all that we can do is to give ‘them the confidence to face any situation’.

    Quirky Indian

  16. Hmmm agree with you.Anyways scenarios has been changed since mid of this decade, like now a days to run a family decently both the husband and wife has to work in Indian metros.Daughter or son now a days most of the parents are giving education(i will say as best as they can) to there children irrespective to gender.And after all men or women, it is always good to be self dependent.

    I agree. ‘men or women, it is always good to be self dependent.’ – Absolutely.

    I like your dad’s quote β€˜Hope for the best, and prepare for the worst’.
    I like it too πŸ™‚

  17. well written smitha if there was one advice i grew up on it was that how important it is to be financially (and emotionally) independent

    Both financial and emotional independence is equally important. That is one thing I feel is lacking in the way girls(most not all) are brought up in India.

  18. I’m late here. Liked the post a lot and the above comments were also interesting:-) Nothing new to add. Yes, Women need not be financially independent at all times, but they most certainly should be equipped with all the necessary means to become one.


    One would think that education helps change some crippled mindsets but alas!

    Yes, education and a degree are two different things, clearly…

  19. A very well written post. I would have voted it first. loved it. Sad I could not participate.

    I wish you had participated – you write so well!

    here is a tag for you didn’t know where to send so leaving a link here

    I will take up this tag πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for tagging me πŸ™‚

    good wishes. May you win
    Thanks a lot. I am happy enough to participate πŸ™‚

  20. Very well written,Smits. Brilliant post! I agree with all the you have said. Helping the child to become financially and emotionally independent is what every parent should strive for.

    I agree, Deeps. This is all we as parents can do.

    Smits, I’m sorry to have come in here late to pick up this tag. I’m already well past the last date of submitting my entry I guess 😦

    I posted late, Deeps. Saw the link in the comments late and did not get a chance to do the post until yesterday 😦 But I really liked the topics – All of them such relevant ones, that I wanted to write even if I may end up being late πŸ™‚

    All the very best to you for the contest. You have my vote,you know that πŸ™‚

    Thank you dearie πŸ™‚ Have to get selected first and seeing the top quality of the other posts – it would be tough going πŸ™‚

  21. This is a brilliant post Smitha. The realization of self worth is the best thing that a person can have. And ironically working or not working has nothing to do with it. For a long time I thought that leaving my work will leave me handicapped financially. But over the past few months, I have found more ways in which I can be worthy.

    ‘The realization of self worth is the best thing that a person can have. And ironically working or not working has nothing to do with it. ‘ I agree! And I realized that only when I took time off from work too πŸ™‚ That sense of self worth comes from the confidence that we are capable of stuff.

    It is a blessing to have clear minds and ideas like the your maid and your friend.

    I agree. My friend is an independent woman, who sadly had some bad luck, but I was so glad to hear that she was down but not out πŸ™‚

  22. You all share the same maid or what ?? Each of you here in the blogosphere has a maid who has a similar story !!! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    LOL! Yes, we all share a maid πŸ˜†

  23. “We cannot prepare for everything, but surely we can give our children the confidence that they can handle everything?”

    Exactly. A good parenting is all about preparing them to face whatever is thrown at them in the journey called life.

    That is all we can do, isn’t it? I don’t understand why some parents seem to be blind to it.

    There is nothing more to add here, Smi. Very well written!
    Thank you πŸ™‚

    Another vote of mine to you if the entries are selected through voting.

    Thanks Sols πŸ™‚ Where is your post? Why no new posts from you?

  24. The woman who was working as maid of yours was so right Smitha… instilling confidence in her daughter… instead of preparing for heavy dowry..

    It was wonderful to hear that. I was really surprised that somebody not so educated still realized what was best for her daughter.

    Even though I blame both the parties for dowry… I feel why girl’s family has to give such amount of money voluntarily… why don’t everybody join together and say we won’t give… then where these bridegroom’s families will go…

    Absolutely! Both sides are to be blamed. Dowry in some affluent classes has become a status symbol. I have seen cars/gifts decorated to show off what was being given. It amazes me that people can do things like this. What is the point of education if people behave like this despite being educated?

  25. It’s the mindset smithus 😦 Unless that changes, nothing will…

    Absolutely! It is the mindset that needs changing.

    But the good part is… a lot of women , particularly those who’ve lived the hard way themselves are choosing to educate the daughters rather than just marry them off. I’ve seen it in a lot of women. BUt not enough of them though 😦 there needs to be a lot of change yet…

    I agree. Things are changing, slowly, but surely. There is a long way to go though.

  26. I guess this financial independence might bring in a sense of freedom and things are changing in that regards but we still have a long way to go to get rid of emotional independence… It is almost compulsory for women to have a man.

    You are right. We certainly have a long way to go when in comes to emotional independence. But once the concept of financial independence is better established, emotional independence will not be far away.

  27. ‘My dad always says, β€˜Hope for the best, and prepare for the worst’.

    that sums it up nicely. I find it strange that a person like the one mentioned by you should think that a father, brother or husband is there to look after a girl/woman and woman who try to be financially independent are trouble makers. But I suppose even educated people think that way if everything works to their satisfaction. good write up.

    ‘But I suppose even educated people think that way if everything works to their satisfaction.’ – Yes, I think that is the key. Until adversity hits, people assume that everything is fine.. And people who have been through hardship, try and ensure that they are better prepared the next time.. Thank you πŸ™‚

  28. Hopped over from HHG! So well articulated! I have also come across women who think they don’t have to earn money and the men around them are here to take care of them. Strange.

    I know! It is strange, isn’t it, that people still think like this? Welcome here and do keep visiting πŸ™‚

  29. A very well written post Smitha-if more people focussed on making their daughters capable of financial independence than collecting her dowry-we would have really made progress instead of being trapped in the same old vicious cycle…

    Seriously! I don’t understand how even educated people still attach so much of importance to dowry and the need to get their daughters married off as soon as possible, rather than trying to ensure that she is independent if something should not work out…

  30. very good post!..but I always saw that these maids were most of the time independent economically, as they are earning and many well off girls are always economically dependent due to their status of being a housewife:)

    I would not say everybody who is earning is automatically financially independent, but yes, being capable of earning one’s living does go a long way in ensuring financial freedom.

    • Well said Smithu .. al that my maid earns goes into her husband’s pocket 😦 She just does nt listen to us 😦

      Exactly! I had a maid who was doing all the earning, and her husband would beat her up, take all the money and drink it off 😦 What freedom did she have?

  31. Where’s my comment? 😦
    It seems to have disappeared? Is it in Spam Smithus? Can you please check?

    Nothing in spam, Pixie 😦 It seems to have disappeared 😦

    Very well written Smithus! Financial Independence is very important. Something that has been grilled into my head since I was a little girl!
    My mom made sure of that with both of us πŸ™‚

    Thank you, Pixie πŸ™‚ Same here. This has always been stressed to us as well.

    Your maid’s thinking is so clear and very apt. The other person needs to get his/her head examined! What kind of logic is that?

    I know! It is hard to believe that people like this still exist, and sadly, they are not so rare either..

  32. to me its ridiculous to say women dont need to know finances, earn their money and that their father/brother/husband will look after them… sure, as per the traditional rules, in most cases they will.. but there is no gaurantee.. and like u said its always better to be prepared for the worst..

    Exactly! Why should a person live her life assuming that somebody else will take care of her.

    u shudnt teach urself and ur daughters about money and finances just becoz they mite face a tough situation in life.. u shud do it as a rule.. just like u get them admitted in school.. n around their teens begin teaching them how to cook.. earning money and managing finances is a life skill… n we all shud know it…irrespective of gender.

    Absolutely! No two ways about that. I totally agree.

  33. thats the right approach.Out of all the posts i read on this contest, i find your’s to be the only one with some hope πŸ™‚ keep it up

    Thank you πŸ™‚ That is kind of you πŸ™‚ I read so many inspiring ones, mine is nothing in comparison πŸ™‚

  34. Great post as usal Smitha…

    Thank you, Happy Kitten πŸ™‚

    If one teaches one’s children self worth then “all is well”……

    Educating a girl is not just for her to take up a career but to let her have a choice.. to let her have a back up if needed….an educated girl can play a better role in her family and in the society as a whole…


    I salute all the mothers including the one you wrote about… who have fought for her children’s education despite their circumstances ….

    Me too. I have such respect for her.

    Let me also hope that the new govt. decree making education free will empower many more girls and boys in our country and shall lessen the burden of the parents…
    Oh yes! Our country can do so much more.

  35. I am bringing up 2 daughters and every time I tell a friend of mine about my child’s career choices, she says” but it is okay if she does not take up some professional course, she is a girl after all”. I fail to see what my child’s gender has to do with a career. She has as much right as a boy child to go to an engineering college if she wishes to.

    Absolutely! I hate it when people make references like that. Things like, oh you have a daughter, so you don’t have to worry about their studies! As if it only a boy’s education which is important – for girls it is just a timepass! A girl has as much right to doing what she wants to do.

    You are right in a way, some women from the downtrodden section of the society have grasped what financial independence would mean to their daughters, where as some narrow minded supposedly educated women from middle/ upper classes are still clinging on to some age old views.

    Yes, I do find that in a lot of cases, middle/upper class is more oblivious to reality- might just be that they have not had a reality check – yet.

  36. Can’t agree more.
    Love your father’s line “Hope for the best but prepare for the worst”
    You never know when life will put you at test. Be it a girl or a boy… parents should prepare them for life’s surprises. So that they can handle it well and come out stronger and better at the other end.

    True.. Be it a girl or boy – why not ensure that they are well prepared?

  37. Very well said. It’s strange that people can still live in a fool’s paradise and talk of male members being around to ‘care for’ women. Don’t they read the newspapers — how can they renounce reality to such an extent?

  38. Being financially independent was the highlight of all of Amma’s lectures to me… I think she has it running in my blood now πŸ™‚

    Welcome here celestialrays πŸ™‚ And yes, I think I have been brought up on a dose of such lectures too πŸ™‚

    Very well written Smitha…

    Thank you!

  39. I agree with whatever you wrote Smitha…and the quote ‘hope for the best and be prepared for the worst’ is so true…All one needs to have is the confidence to live life on our own..

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