It is absolutely our right to insist on equality, but this comes with responsibility as well.
As we celebrate 100 years of women achieving the right to vote, we recognise that equality for women is still one of the most import issues facing society today with many women expending a considerable amount of time and energy to gain greater parity in both politics and the work place.
One area of concern I have is that some women, married in particular, do not take responsibility for or insist on equal footing with their personal financial situation. I have many stories of friends and acquaintances who completely abnegate any role in their financial situation and then end up in crisis at an unexpected death or divorce. They are totally dependent on the good will and financial management skills of their husband, both which may be sorely lacking, and yet they won’t know until it is too late.
In my opinion, this is nothing short of irresponsible, not to mention a terribly out-dated attitude toward marriage, and yet I see women of all ages doing exactly this, including those who have successful careers of their own. They are putting themselves and their dependants at risk of severe financial consequences, which can result at the very least in the sale of assets to maintain any standard of living.
This delegation of responsibility is also unfair on their partners who have to shoulder this vital and often stressful responsibility on their own.
I’m not a sociologist so the reasons for this, I can only guess at, but assume it has to do with attitudes towards gender roles in relationships. It is time for this to be talked about openly and to look for ways to improve this situation to bring about equality in financial responsibility.
A few ideas consider. Firstly include a mandatory Life Skills module for all GSCE students which includes the basics of personal financial management: how to understand and read a pay check, what the deductions are for, how to read a bank statement, different types of bank accounts, how to make a personal budget, the importance of saving and guidelines of how much and how to do so, what happens to personal financial landscape, your rights and responsibilities when you co-habit or marry, etc.
Secondly, whilst the above would help the next generation of both women and men to live more secure, responsible and independent lives, we can and should be looking at ways to help adults now, and in particular women. One idea would be for the government to partner with major UK banks to provide short seminars at various times of the day and week to explain why it is essential that every able citizen understand and have a say in their personal financial situation and provide guidance on how to achieve this.
Recognising and addressing this situation is something that would improve the lives of a very large number of people right across the social and demographic spectrum. The solutions are not difficult nor financially onerous, but the impact can be significant. It is also core to Conservative values of personal independence and responsibility. I for one raise my hand to help make it happen, who will support and join me?
The words in this article are those of the author.
Amy Le Coz is a business woman, mother and entrepreneur. In addition to being Chair of the Women2Win Business Club, Amy is on the National Executive Board of the CWO as Director of Enterprise and the board of CYW.