Crippling inflation drives up the economic clout of women

Womens Day: Their growing contributions give them greater say in decision making

Crippling inflation drives up the economic clout of women

on a par: Today’s woman is second to none. Getty

There has been such a significant growth in the income generation of women that brides in Bangalore are often chosen based on their potential to earn, informed researchers to the Deccan Herald, on the eve of 100th celebration of International Women’s Day.

Though the phenomenon reflects the harsh financial realities, as one sociologist rightly pointed out it also emphasises women’s empowerment.

“In Bangalore, it’s absolutely true - the majority of wives need to work,” said Dr Berin Lukas, Sociology professor at St Joseph’s College.

On equal footing

“And the pay levels have become more or less equal between man and wife, and in many households the wife is now earning the better income,” she said.

The City led the country’s metropolitan centres in the number of wives who brought in greater shares of family incomes. Its high living costs made it necessary, but its economy also had enough capacity to absorb the women who wanted to work, Dr Lukas said.
There was a great demand among women to upskill and earn higher salaries, and many were moving away from professions formerly associated with women, such as teaching, to IT and other high-wage sectors, she said.

It is a far cry from the “secondary incomes” that wives traditionally earned and put straight into savings.

Dr Supriya Roychowdhury, head of the Centre for Political Institutions, Governance and Development at the Institute of Social and Economic Change (ISEC), said that matrimonial advertisements seeking well-earning brides spoke volumes about the social change that was overturning the finances of Bangalore’s marriages.

The growing contributions of women have given them equal footing in decision making that was once a male bastion, Dr Roychowdhury said.

Dr K G Gayathridevi, an Associate Professor at ISEC specialising in gender issues, said the rise of women’s economic clout permeated all levels of society.

"It isn’t just in the educated class where men are appreciating women's contributions to family expenditures, but it’s also among the middle class and lower-middle class - a woman working in a garment factory makes most of the financial decisions in her family," Dr Gayathridevi said.

Father Ambrose Pinto, principal of St Joseph’s College, said wives’ upward mobility had translated into more women than men enrolling in Bangalore’s Catholic universities.
“The economy here has changed drastically in the last 20 years, and more and more people are coming to realise that they will not be able to manage their families unless both men and women work,” Pinto said.

Change in perception

“The mindset has changed from the expectation that women should be unemployed and just raise their children.”

The trend is more than academic for Sandhya and Sandesh, IT professionals who recently bought an apartment and are equally contributing to the bank loan. "I knew if I had to buy the apartment only with my income, it would have been difficult, with Sandhya's equal contribution, we are able to plan our future better financially. Single income becomes difficult to sustain a high standard of living in a cosmopolitan city like Bangalore,” Sandesh said.

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