Most of us were given piggy banks when we were little. We used to save up small amounts of money to buy toffees or treat our friends at school. We used to be responsible and accountable for our own money, even if all it included was a bunch of 1 rupee coins.

Over the years, from my perspective, I’ve come to realise that the age of women is indirectly proportional to their ability of handling money i.e. as young girls mature into women, the society naturally assumes that they’re not capable of handling money by themselves or paying money for their own needs. Don’t get me wrong, this has definitely improved over the years and women are a lot more independent than they’ve ever been, but from time to time the stereotypes still come up and make women seem like the inferior gender.

In an average Indian household, most of the money related issues and discussions are held among men and all the money related tasks are given to the sons. It is naturally assumed that women wouldn’t be interested or wouldn’t be able to participate in such discussions. I feel this is where the problem orginates from and it continues into corporates and organisations not including women as a part of their top management.

The Divide

This social experiement conducted by Paytm explains this financial gap quite accurately.

This was an eye opening video for me; I knew this gap, this divide existed but to actually see the difference (although on a very small scale) was surprising. Many people tend to dismiss such topics by stating how women are not interested in numbers or finance, that could be the case in some scenarios but I personally think it’s less about ‘interest’ and more about general awareness.

The question that hit me the hardest was “Do you know the break up of your salary?” As a college student in the final year where everyone’s looking for jobs and placements, I never even thought to look at the various heads under the compensation provided by companies. It is at this point I realised that it isn’t about how fascianted you are with numbers or certain terms in finance; women and men should know what their salary consists of. They should be able to discuss and ask questions about it to their managers or bosses without the fear of being judged or being laughed at.

Another reason people use to dismiss this is by stating that women don’t take an initiative. Again, in some cases it might be true but towards the end of the video, there are 2 siblings who are talking about how different the responsibilities were for both of them in the same house. So, even when the brother was younger, he knew more about financial matters than his elder sister.

Give it back, by paying it back - Paytm

One of the most common example of when such stereotypes are visible is in a restaurant. When a man and a woman are done having a meal together (not necessarily on a romantic date), the waiter generally hands over the bill to the man. Of course, it completely depends on the two individuals how they want to make the payement but why do people assume that the man is going to pay for the meal?

I have always wondered why in movies and TV shows the man pays on the first date or buys drinks for a woman at a party, but I never really understood how important it is to spread awareness about how this should not be a norm unless there’s an agreement from both sides of the party.

This advertisement by Paytm hits the nail on the head. It shows how a random man buys a drink for a random woman at a bar thinking she will appreciate it, even while he is giving out his number, his tone of voice suggests that he thinks the woman was impressed by his move.

On the surface it does not seem like a big deal. Afterall, who wouldn’t like a free drink from a stranger? But it covers certain aspects that are super important especially in today’s world.

  1. Consent
  2. YES, consent is required even here. All that was required was the man asking the woman if she was comfortable with him buying a drink for her. She would have said yes if she was okay with it and no if she wasn't. I wouldn't be comfortable with a strange unknown man buying a drink for me, it would seem very shady to me.

  3. The Masculine Aspect
  4. Although not super evident, it depicts how men are expected to make the first move or are expected to pay for a drink or a meal. It is a part of the 'Toxic Masculinity' concept. Men do NOT have to make the first move, men do NOT have to pay on an outing unless they want to and the other party is in agreement with it.

What’s next?

Advertisements depicting scenarios occuring in day to day life especilly by digital payment companies can greatly change the outlook of the audience and of course also raise awareness about such issues. A few scenarios off the top of my head that can be turned into advertisements are:

  • Women paying the household bills instead of men (Can be seen in an ad here
  • An Indian household delegating money related tasks to women or daughters in the house
  • A family discussing finance related issues (stocks, companies etc.) with both men and women present on the table
  • A women asking about the components in her salary to the company officials, and instead of laughing they explain it to her from scratch.
  • The good old splitting up of the bill when a man and a woman are out to eat (Alternate version: The waiter leaving the bill in the middle of the table and not on any one particular side)

To me, the future seems bright for women in the world of finance. As the literacy rate goes up, the awareness about oneself and the world around them also increases. Just like a piggyback ride is used to carry one person from one place to another by supporting them on one’s back, similarly the society as a whole should give women back their piggybank and give them a metaphorical piggyback ride that can help them travel from an unknown and dependent territory to one where they’re independent and well aware of their financial matters.

Note: I contemplated and procrastinated writing this post for a very long time because I was afraid of sounding “Too Feminist”. I started looking up the term to see if it even was a thing, it’s not. I wanted to try and put my thoughts and opinions in the best way possible in order to not be labelled as a feminazi or have people judge and question the entire movement of feminism. This article was my attempt to talk about a matter I’ve always thought of but never quite known how to express but this particular advertisement by Paytm gave me a way to do it. I might have made some errors and might not have potrayed the movement in the best way possible but I will try and get better overtime.

Thanks for reading!