India: Women still rely on 'man of the house' when making financial decisions

| 17 Oct 2022

About 89% of married women depend on their spouses when it comes to matters pertaining to financial planning, according to a survey by Tata AIA.

Before marriage, the father is responsible for the financial decisions for women, which then is tacitly passed on to the husband, post marriage. The survey also indicated that since the average age of women getting married is 20-22 years, they do not have the liberty of deciding about their finances. Thus, marriage is one of the foremost deterrent factors in impeding the independence in financial decision making for women. 

For 39% of the women covered in the survey, financial planning is restricted to planning the monthly budget. Of 42% of the women who have a better understanding of financial planning, only 12% are homemakers. 

According to the survey, for most women, being financially independent does not necessarily mean they have the freedom to make their finance related decisions. Among working women, 59% do not independently take decisions on their finances. The ratio is higher in tier 3 markets, where 65% of working women do not take independent financial decisions. 

This behaviour is despite the intense narrative of women empowerment and gender equality that has been extensively deliberated over the decades. Laws against women have also been strengthened, and a positive shift has taken place over the years regarding the position of women in society. Yet when it comes to financial planning, women do not get to call the shots, the survey said. 

Given a choice, however, 44% of women are willing to make their own financial decisions. Encouragingly, in tier-2 markets, women are warming up to the idea of making their own financial decisions. Increased awareness of their rights and a general lifestyle upgrade could contribute to this change. 

When asked about priorities, the survey revealed that women prioritise their family's financial security over themselves. Among the various financial instruments, 62% of the women are more comfortable investing in Bank FDs for the benefit of their families. However, when asked about a preference for themselves, they trusted their spouse's decision.