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The Gap in Finance: A Gender Approach

Sabah Taslim
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A recent ad campaign called ‘The Divide‘ created by Dentsu Impact (the Paytm ad) went viral as it starkly spelled the existing gender gap in terms of financial literacy among men and women in the country. In brief, the Paytm ad got together thirty odd men and women to partake in a social experiment. The participants were made to line up and questions were thrown at them on the basis of which they had to either answer “yes” and take a step forward or answer “no” and take a step backward. At the end of the experiment, the participants were caught off guard to find a huge gap between men and the women. This gap was unanticipated in the beginning. The question that one begs to ask is what were these questions that caused ‘The Divide’? [1]

In the beginning, simple questions were asked such as if (i) they learned how to ride a bicycle before the age of 10; (ii) if they took music lessons in school; (iii) if they took lessons in sports; (iv) if they learned how to iron their clothes in school; and (v) if they can make tea or breakfast not only for themselves and more. The difference became stark when questions became more focused on finances and money, instead of simpler ones.

They were asked –

  1. if they pay the household bills themselves; 

  2. if they know the circle rate of the area they live in; 

  3. price of gold; 

  4. exact breakup of their salaries; 

  5. details of financial documents they are asked to sign; 

  6. if they own a vehicle on their name; 

  7. if they have bought insurance policy unassisted; 

  8. if they watch or follow the Budget; 

  9. if they manage their finances and earning unassisted; 

  10. if they know how to invest in mutual funds; 

  11. if they know the difference between a mutual fund and an SIP; 

  12. if they make investments for their family members and spouse, and

  13. if they file their own income tax returns[2]. 

As a result, this was The Divide –

It is an alarming and problematic gap that exists today without us realising it. Probably in our own families and friend circles. Please know there is a difference between being educated and acquiring financial literacy. It goes without saying that our world is more equal today than ever before, when it comes to bridging the gender gap in education. However, the same does not apply to financial literacy because it is more of a social attitude, applicable to an individual as opposed to a policy intervention of sorts where an institution anchors the change.

What it means is that hustling and saving up is not enough. Most women I know do not like the hassle involved in figuring out where to put their money and instead prefer the old school of letting their money sit idle in their savings account. To be truly independent and to have meaningful freedom of choice is to be able to have both bodily freedom, freedom to choose a lifestyle, freedom from social norms and most importantly financial freedom. It is imperative to have the ability to take an active role in your own financial planning  because financial planning does not have gender tropes. 

Financial planning is not a gendered assigned role. And financial literacy is just the kind of hassle that rightfully deserves your attention, irrespective of your gender. All of this will only be the first step towards achieving that coveted financial independence, gender equality activists yearn for. So please do ask all the questions that will help you make a more informed decision of where to park your money because it will all be futile if we keep striving for equal pay but let the men decide how much of that earning finally goes into your well-being.


[1] Narayanan, C. (2021, April 4). Are brands overdoing social experiments? @businessline. experiments/article34123497.ece  

[2] (2021, March 8). Paytm ad on financial literacy gap between men, women hits the right chord with Twitterati 

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