Financial Freedom Should Be A Common Dream For All The Women And Girls

This is Ankita Kamat, the founder at Frugal Beat. I’m someone who is in the early 20s. After quitting my job, I’m living my dream now. I’m chasing my passion and dream career. In my journey, I’ve learnt to be frugal in my life. And frugal living is helping me to build my career without spending a big buck.

What Is Frugal Living For Me?

For me, frugal living is the first step towards financial freedom. Being frugal means living well without spending more money; it’s about saving money without compromising on anything. Well, personally, I feel there are three steps to reach financial freedom. The first one is frugal living. The next step is financial independence. And the last step is financial freedom. So everyone should take the first step as soon as possible.

Now you may think what the difference between financial freedom and financial independence is. Well, if you are doing a job and paying all your bills, then it’s financial independence. And today, if you leave your job and still you can pay all the bills with your own money for life long, then it’s financial freedom!

Ankita Kamat

Is Financial Freedom Meant Only For Boys?

Not at all! A few months ago, this question popped in my mind. Then I realised that everyone needs money for survival, be it a boy or a girl. I’ve observed that in India, girls don’t think much about financial independence or financial freedom. Even if young women join any job, they are forced to quit their job after marriage.

I feel that every young girl should take charge. Each woman should be independent in all the terms. Financial independence is like a key for a girl to open the door of a cage and fly high. Everyone needs money, then why should we girls stay away from financial independence and money management, right?

Why Financial Independence Is Important For Women

As a young woman, I’ve realised that it’s imperative to save money and be independent. I’ve seen some women in my life whose lives have become hell because they don’t have financial independence. So, women need to understand the importance of earning and saving money.

1. Earning and saving money will secure your future:

A few years back, my parents were thinking about my marriage. But at that time, my thoughts were, “That guy is earning well, but what about my financial independence? Okay, today I’m not earning money, I’m not independent, but as he is earning, well, I can ask him money whenever I want. Oh no! What if he says ‘No’ to fulfil my demands?!” I’m sure many of you may also get these type of thoughts when your parents talk about your marriage. And finally, I decided not to get into any relationship with this insecurity.

When you are financially independent and saving money, you feel your future is fully secured. You get confidence to live your life fully. So young women must figure out ways to be financially independent.

2. Live your life on your own terms and conditions:

I feel, after graduation, if we girls start to earn money then we can live life on our own terms. I used to save 70–80% of my monthly income from my job. And I started to invest my money in mutual funds. Usually, in India, women don’t show interest in investment and personal finance. I feel the main reason is that they are not financially independent and lack confidence.

Since my college days, I’m interested in investments, shares and stocks. But as I was not financially independent at that time, I could not take any financial risks. So with my experience, I can say that financial independence gives you the courage to take risks in life—you can live your life without being accountable to anyone.

3. You will be proud of yourself:

When I earned my first income, I was on cloud nine! I was feeling proud and confident about myself. With my first salary, I bought a wristwatch for me. I can say that I gifted a wristwatch to myself 🙂

I was proud to tie that watch. Do you know why? The real reason was that once in my childhood; I demanded a new wristwatch from my father. But he refused. And today, I can say that was the best day of my life, as I’ve learnt the importance of financial independence.

So, after so many years, I tied the wristwatch that I bought with my own earned money. That moment was great for me. Trust me, it does not matter how much money you make, but when you get your first income, you will feel proud of yourself. It boosts confidence in girls. Why should young girls miss this opportunity to be proud of themselves, right?

Ankita Kamat

I really feel that every girl should experience this proud moment by taking charge and stepping towards financial independence in her life.

4. You will not compromise on anything in your life:

Financially independent women and girls don’t need to compromise on anything in their life. I’ve seen many girls who are compromising on many things just because they have not earned and saved money for themselves. When you have your own money, you can do the things you really like—for example, investing money, starting your own business, travelling, learning new skills, etc.

What Stops The Girls From Being Financially Independent?

Usually, all the boys start earning money in their 20s and become independent. But when it comes to girls, there are a lot of barriers to becoming financially independent. As per my experience and knowledge, I’m listing some barriers here:

  • Gender inequality
  • Lack of confidence
  • Fear of getting judged by society
  • Lack of education
  • Family issues and pressure
  • Marriage and children

No matter how many barriers women face in life, I feel they are strong enough to overcome all the barriers and get financial independence in their life. You have the power to take charge and change your destiny. Some of us never think about saving and personal finance. We think the finance department is meant only for boys or men. But let me tell you, girls can also be better at handling finance.

I faced and am facing a lot of issues to be independent. But I’m learning to be a strong, independent girl. Financial freedom is my dream. As a common girl, when I can take charge of my life, then surely each girl has this potential. So don’t follow any myth regarding savings and personal finance and financial independence. Take charge.

Gather your confidence right now and take the right decision for yourself. As a girl, I’m saying this— don’t get trapped into a ‘dependent life’. Every girl has the potential to be financially independent. Be that kickass girl who inspires and empower other girls.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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