Friday, March 1, 2024

Are women still leaving major financial decisions to someone else?

Empowered, outspoken, and educated, women in committed relationships still do not equally participate in making long-term financial decisions, revealed a new study by UBS Global Wealth Management.

UBS surveyed 1,825 investors (906 women and 919 men) from January 8 to February 28, 2020. The study revealed interesting facts about men and women’s attitudes and behaviour towards making major financial and investment decisions. Although based in the U.S. the study, in part reflects the global concern that women are not equally involved in the major financial decision-making process. A concern that is often cited in discussions around Gender-Based Violence.

Based on the study’s findings, UBS thereafter published a report titled, “Own You Worth”, which suggested that joint financial participation could be a remedy to gender inequality in the home. Both men and women who participated in the study strongly felt that to achieve true gender equality, women should be equally involved in long-term financial decisions.

Surprisingly, almost half of women surveyed (49%) still deferred long-term financial decisions such as investing, retirement planning, and wealth accumulation to their spouses, with millennial most likely to do that. The main reasons cited by these women were lack of confidence, desire to keep peace in the home, devote their time to household duties therefore do not have time, or because they had no interest.

COVID-19 reinforced these gender stereotypes nonetheless, 64% of women surveyed took the lead in home schooling, childcare (60%) while men took the lead in yard work (58%) and managing finances (71%). Given the risk posed on the health of the family, women would naturally tend to provide care for their family while men will likely do their best to provide for the family.

Although the women surveyed had intentions to also provide for their families financially, their actions still reflected otherwise even among those with highest academic qualifications. Even among the single millennial women (88%) who envision themselves participating equally in long-term financial decisions after marriage, 54% of the single millennial when married still deferred major financial decisions to their spouse.

As much as this is a U.S study, it reflects the gap between intentions and actions when it comes to taking the lead role or equal participation when it comes to long-term financial matters. The study also revealed that women would most likely take care of the daily budgeting and purchasing of smaller items such as groceries, but will take the backbench role when it comes to bigger investments.

The time has come to stop speaking financial independence and live it. As women, our intentions may be good, but what we do behind closed doors speak volumes about how much we want to level the playing field.

Let us face it, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on our incomes. This has without a doubt redefined our relationship with money in our marriages and relationships. In my view, this is an opportune time to equally participate in reviewing our family financial goals and investment strategies. That is the beginning of achieving true gender equality, from the home to the workplace and the political environment.

Disclaimer: Otisitswe K. Tawana-Madziba is the founder of Fin-Edu, a social enterprise that empowers young people with social and financial education. Email: [email protected] or visit:


Read this week's paper