It is a norm and is generally accepted in our society today for women to depend on someone for their financial provision. The few women that count on themselves for financial freedom are considered negatively.
It, therefore, comes as no surprise to see husbands, boyfriends, brothers or uncles financially providing for the women close to them. International organisations such as World Food Programme (WFP) also have cash transfer programmes targeting women.
However, this financial dependence has made some women stick to miserable marriages, relationships and endure a life of unspeakable hardships and heartaches. For example, some husbands control access to finances by their women so they can continue to exercise oppressive control over their lives.
Supposedly due to this dependence, a 2012 government survey reported that 40 percent of women aged 15 – 49 years had experienced spousal violence of some kind.
In the face of the challenges that women face as they depend on others financially, financial education for the women is, therefore, no longer a luxury but rather a necessity.
However, against such a background reigning in our society, gaining financial independence may therefore mean various things to different women.
To some, financial independence may mean having power to exercise control over their husbands and to others, the freedom to indulge in various pleasures of life at will without being accountable to anyone.
Although there is no right or wrong answer, financial independence does not mean that women should have power over their husbands or over men but that they should have power over themselves, the decisions they make concerning their present and future choices.
Financial independence for women also means they are choosing long term freedom over short term comfort.
According to Health and Demographic Report of 2010, 53 percent of Malawi’s poorest women reported that their husbands mainly make decisions about how to spend the couple’s earnings.
In having access to finance, it is also reported that only 17 percent of Malawian women have bank accounts and less than 11 percent have access to credit.
However, gaining financial independence is not a walk in the park, it requires attaining skills that are not available in business as usual approach to life. It’s a harder road to travel..
No wonder a lot of women find it tough and sadly turn away attempting to gain financial independence.
Nevertheless, financial independence calls women to do the hard stuff they have been putting aside for years. It implies that now the women stop to procrastinate and begin to spend their precious time on things that will make financial resources flow to them. It means getting up early in the morning to work on those course materials that will help them get more knowledge and qualify for more pay.
It also means starting businesses in their own right and getting knowledge by reading books, newspapers and magazines on how to do business.
However, if reading is a problem, women can also listen to audios or CDs as they move above doing errands.
It also means investing in educational seminars, conferences and workshops. Joining village banking groups or business groups. It also means approaching those women that are in business and have been successful, talking to them to gain knowledge and tips on how to do well in business.
Financial independence will afford women create and expand their means of financial provision to have the lifestyle they want and deserve.
Gaining skills on financial freedom implies that women are setting up for themselves to succeed in the event of death of their husbands or in case of being laid off from work as they will have a clue from where to start or proceed from.
However, gaining financial independence is not a get-rich-quick formula; it might take time before women begin to reap the fruits of their labour in doing business or handling finances. However, persistence and frugality will produce success.
When a woman is financially free and can exercise power over herself and her choices, her relationship with the husband, children, family and friends grows stronger.
Financially independent women are married and will stay there out of choice and not because they are afraid to look after themselves financially.