Essays of Africa
Women’s Economic Emancipation… Money Liberates...
“A woman’s best protection is a little money of her own” – Clare Boothe Luce. Our grandmothers understood this so well. They would always have a little money of their own hidden away for crisis management. It’s good to know the value of money and to know what money can do for you. Having financial conversations within the family from an early age is important. Before you accuse me of being money-minded, reality has taught me that you need money to execute your vision and to realise your dreams.
Women are vulnerable when they do not have that extra money of their own. Our children don’t just survive on love and kisses; they need food, shelter, education, clothing – all of which is paid for by the additional money that we are able to save.
While money is an ever-present need, our circumstances and those of the people in our lives change constantly. Today our loved ones are with us, but within the blink of an eye they may accept the call to sing in God’s heavenly choir. Young, old, rich or poor, we all face the same eventual fate. Today you may be the love of his life, his one and only, but tomorrow he may be declaring his love to new women. Suddenly you go from ‘Baby’ to ‘Hey wena, Susan!’
In the same vein, your may be riding a career high as your business flourishes, but the next day could see you insolvent and looking for handouts. Where are you at that moment and where is that little bit of money of your own? Just how financially confident and knowledgeable are you? Be assertive when it comes to conversations about your money. Being financially dependent takes away your power and cripples your ability to question and contribute to your financial future, leaving you ‘dead’ before your actual death. You are not equipped to stand up and fight, to fix or correct the situation that you find yourself in.
Financial independence liberates you mentally, emotionally and allows you to safeguard your creative space. Women like to compromise without being asked to compromise. If your partner has requested that you stay at home as a house executive, please my sister, get legal advice and draft a binding contract to protect yourself and your children. Let your responsibilities be clarified and captured in the legally binding stay-at-home contract and let your remuneration be negotiated, including pension and retirement annuity. Yes, your remuneration for working at home!
Do this not only to protect your little ones, but also to protect your own interests and your heart. Business and personal relationships are the similar in the sense that in the former you connect with a stranger to make money and in the latter you connect with a stranger for love. In both there is a mutual exchange, which requires some sort of formal agreement.
Moreover, every woman should have a secret savings fund, or umgodla, for rainy days or emergencies. After reading this, go and have a one-on-one with your grandmother, if she is still alive, and you’ll find that she has many words of wisdom for you. The expensive bags, clothes and holidays are not a ‘cool’ way of saving. As you shop, think rather of your secret savings fund; think of your protection and putting aside that little extra money of your own.
In her final moments, my grandmother told me to fetch her wallet from a kist. In it there were very old, well-preserved notes that she had saved for over 40 years. That old money comes in handy when there’s a serious crisis in the family. That old culture of secret savings needs to make a comeback with the women of today.
As women, we often want permission for everything. We keep willingly handing over our power and then have the audacity to blame men for ‘stealing’ it. The question we need to ask ourselves is who told us we couldn’t be independent? Who said it is unlawful to economically emancipate yourself? Who on earth has ever dared to murmur that it is unconstitutional?
So many of our sisters have accepted the financial ruin they live in and do not take any responsibility for it. What I’ve learnt from the old and wise women who sit under the big bamboo trees when the sun is at peak is this… Start that secret savings fund today for that peace of mind tomorrow! And for a little added incentive, read our article on how your friends influence your finance fitness