The sad truth is even in the 21st century, most women in the world have no choice but to rely on a man to provide for their basic needs. As a consequence, women make up a disproportionate percentage of the most economically disadvantaged on the planet.
The Way It Is:
Women have the potential to be earning as much or more than their male counterparts. However, in the male-dominated economic society that we live in there is a barrier known as the 'glass ceiling' which often prevents women from achieving their full economic potential.
According to legal publisher Find Law, the definition of gender discrimination is as follows: Discrimination on the basis of gender taking many forms; sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, and unequal pay for women who do the same jobs as men.
Blatant gender suppression is decreasing in the Western world, but in Middle Eastern Nations, Asia, Africa and Latin America, basic human rights and dignities are often ignored for women.
On a global scale, when women have been stripped of their rights to speak, act or merely be seen in public, it makes it very hard for them to get a foot in the door of any job field, resulting in fewer women able to achieve financial independence.
The male-dominated institutions responsible for these discriminatory standards are exonerated for their actions because they are considered politically and religiously acceptable.
In the West, society not only turns a blind eye to the treatment and objectification of women in the work setting but if often encourages it. By having women happily partaking in their objectification, they are being a part of the problem.
Societal and religious Patriarchy has the effect of rendering females financially dependent. According to The Simple Dollar, "Married women are often completely unaware of their family finances, relying on their spouse not only for income but also to design their family’s financial blueprint." Women are, in turn, encouraged to focus on familial responsibilities and hospitality in the home. They are forced to uphold their male companion's ideals of a family, leaving them with no extra energy to focus on ideas beyond themselves.
According to the Pew Research Center, “About half (51%) of survey respondents say that children are better off if a mother is home and doesn’t hold a job, while just 8% say the same about a father.” Surprisingly, this piece of research implies that more than half the survey respondents would agree that a good business businesswoman mother cannot occupy the same playing field, let alone, excel at both. However, there have not been comparable studies between stay at home fathers. It is clear that despite evidence of a woman's ability to provide and take charge, a woman's 'place' has been predisposed and defined by today's society.
The Way It Should Be:
Don't just fight the glass ceiling. Own it!
One of the most productive ways to become financially and personally independent is to become a business owner. There are already thousands 'femmepreneurs' - female owned businesses.
As well there are many resources for the female entrepreneur. For example, programs such as the Roadmap foundation provide women with the necessities that are essential in the building blocks of a business; "the creation of a “roadmap” that gives funders, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and governments a path to programs that effectively help women improve their incomes, productivity, and ultimately, their communities." This means that a woman may have access to resources she normally may not, in order to help her reach her independent business goals.
According to a report by The Guardian, "The trend for increasing numbers of stay-at-home dads has been driven by growing numbers of women earning more than their partner – a quarter of women said they now earn more than their children's father." In some countries, (Denmark, Sweden & the UK), equal custody shared by mom and dad is granted at birth. This fairer settlement provides both parents with an opportunity to pursue careers as neither side has to feel more responsible.
Equal responsibility means that women are no longer obligated to remain as the child's primary caretaker around the clock. Mothers can dedicate equal parts child care and career attention without being accused of sacrificing the well being of their children in order to advance their careers.
According to a study published by the Harvard Business Review, “Not only were the women judged to be superior in areas where women are not traditionally thought to excel, such as developing others and building relationships, their ratings were significantly higher, on 12 of the 16 traits most important to overall leadership effectiveness.” In plain terms, where women were expected to fail, they actually exceeded expectations. And when it comes to overall leadership effectiveness, they excelled!
This success in the workplace is translated to empowerment over one's career, capabilities, and financial stability. A strong woman builds a house with the bricks thrown at her- but it's about time we build a castle!
To quote finance guide The Simple Dollar, "When you are financially independent, you are the sole architect of your financial future." This means freedom of reliance and dependency upon others for your economic needs.
Please note that we make a distinction between dependency and partnership. In a partnership, both parties agree to contribute. In a dependency, one partner (usually men) does most of the financial contribution with the other being claimed as a 'dependent'. In a partnership, both parties agree upon their different contributions to the household.
We take the concept of simply being a female business owner one step further! By being an EcoFeminist Entrepreneur you are creating a marketable product or service that directly helps address an area of female inequality!
And once you have your idea you don't even have to rely on traditional sources of funding. Crowdfunding sites allow you to fully articulate your vision to receive financial support. If your idea has resonance, and you promote it well, you can now get funding.
- Breadwinner Moms - Pew Research Center
- Women in the Workplace - The Harvard Business Review
- Stay-At-Home Dads on the Up - The Guardian
- Gender Discrimination - Find Law
- Extreme Examples of Gender Equality - Listverse
- The Guide To Financial Independence for Women - The Simple Dollar
- Roadmap for Women's Economic Empowerment - The Roadmap Project
- Structured Settlements - Financial Literacy for Women