Today we are here to talk about how money and financial inequality contributes to an imbalance of power between men and women; which can cause serious problems within intimate relationships.
Disclaimer/Trigger Warning: This week’s topic is a heavy hitter as we discuss topics including money and personal finance in relationships, women’s rights, discrimination and violence against women. Please be cautious as you continue reading; take a break and come back if you need to. Our purpose is not only to educate people on these important financial matters, but also to let you know you are not alone. Here at Untangle Money, it is our mission to help women and non-binary people take control of their finances; because being in control of your own money is a matter of safety and security.
Why Financial Inequality Is a Women's Rights Issue.
In 2010, a report from the Canada House of Commons on poverty identified 10 groups that were most at risk of experiencing low income: children, lone-parent families (specifically female lone-parent families), women, unattached individuals, seniors, Indigenous people, people with disabilities, recent immigrants, visible minorities, and low-wage workers. In her book Why Women Are Poorer Than Men, Annabelle Williams points out that all around the world, in both developing and developed countries, women are more likely than men to be unemployed or vulnerably employed. Access to money is crucial because it determines what women, and anyone for that matter, can and can’t do. Therefore, it is very much a women’s rights issue.
Money means freedom and power, it gives you choices, and it is essential for independence. But for far too long it’s been accepted as the norm that women are poorer than men, in all parts of the world; meaning little to no power, no independence or freedom, no ability to make their own choices, etc. This leads to an imbalance of power and control between men and women, even between governments and women for that matter. Our societies are built around men and the patriarchy, allowing men more financial and economic power than women. Women are at a financial and economic disadvantage with serious and life-threatening effects. Specifically what we’ll be discussing today is how financial inequality between men and women can have serious effects in terms of intimate relationships.*
*Financial inequality exists between many partners in intimate relationships outside of just a heterosexual couple; but for the sake of this post we are specifically focusing on the effects of financial inequality in heterosexual relationships.
The Gendered Effects of Financial Inequality in Intimate Relationships.
According to the AAUW, the pay gap contributes to the wealth gap because it makes it difficult for women to amass savings, build wealth and achieve economic security. This is relevant to talk about because it contributes to an imbalance of financial power in relationships because women can end up relying on their spouses or partners for financial security. Often, women will choose to stay in abusive relationships to avoid falling into poverty. When women have to rely on their spouses for financial security it can lead to power-tripping, forms of abuse (mentally, emotionally and physically), and it takes away their freedom and independence.
Financial freedom and independence extends far beyond being able to purchase your own belongings, travelling whenever you want, doing whatever you want, etc. Financial freedom and independence gives you the ability to walk away from toxic relationships (familial, friendly and intimate), it gives you the ability to protect yourself. Without sufficient economic resources, it is harder, if not impossible, for women to escape abusive relationships, leaving them stuck in serious and life threatening scenarios.
Some facts from the Canadian Women’s Foundation for reference:
More than 1.5 million women in Canada live on a low income
Women who leave a partner to raise children on their own are five times more likely to be poor than if they had stayed
About 1 in 5 single mothers in Canada live on a low income
Earlier this year we wrote a blog post on The Impact of Covid-19 on Women. Our findings for the blog found that according to the United Nations, "across every sphere, from health to the economy, security to social protection, the impacts of COVID-19 are exacerbated for women and girls simply by virtue of their sex". Some notable impacts being:
An increase in violence among poor and marginalized women;
An increase in economic insecurity and major impact on education - both of which lead to increases in gender-based violence; and
A major pandemic-related stressor that has become a trigger for domestic and gendered violence globally is job loss and income reduction. Unfortunately proving that money and financial inequality have major effects on intimate relationships between men and women.
Other effects of women’s lower earning power, according to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, include being at a higher risk of falling into poverty if they have children and then become separated, divorced, or widowed. They are also less able to save for their retirement and more likely to be poor in their senior years. It is abundantly clear that financial inequality contributes to an imbalance of power in intimate relationships, which leads to serious impacts on women.
So, what can we do to uphold women’s rights and protect their financial independence?
It’s important for us to normalize conversations around money for women. A great way you can help is to start a conversation with your friends and family about the importance of women having financial freedom and independence. The gendered effects of financial inequality may go unnoticed or not seem relevant to some people. But talking about them, having these conversations and unpacking the "how" and "why" of this happening, as well as continuing to educate yourself and others, are all crucial.
When women aren’t heard, their concerns are overlooked and they continue to be disadvantaged economically. Because men’s problems are often seen as the norm for everyone, women’s issues are a minority concern and not a top priority to deal with. It’s important to note too that the fallout is most severe for the most vulnerable women among us. These women are migrant workers, refugees, marginalized racial and ethnic groups, single-parent mothers, youth, and the world's poorest.
So any work we do to bring about financial equality and to protect women’s rights must be intersectional to ensure that women and girls from all backgrounds around the world are receiving the help and protection they need, and deserve, going forward. As an inclusive community empowering anyone who needs help financially, we are committed to educating ourselves and others in order to make finance accessible to anyone.
In case you didn't know, we are starting a book club for Why Women Are Poorer Than Men by Annabelle Williams (mentioned above). Exploring injustices from pensions to boardroom bullying, Annabelle Williams shows how society conspires to limit women's wealth. You'll learn exactly what you need to know about financial inequality in this game-changing book that exposes the gender wealth gap. You can sign-up through this link, or message us your email on any social platform you follow us on.
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Financial independence is a huge part of being a strong, independent person, and it is our mission to help women, and anyone who doesn't feel safe or welcome in financial spaces typically dominated by cis men, set themselves up for financial success.
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