The quality of a nation,’ Dr. Mike Murdoch once said, ‘…is determined by the quality of the women.’ Nothing rings more true than this statement when you measure the input of women in the development of some of the everyday ideas, inventions and appliances that make our world so bearable to live in.
Subtle as a woman’s touch is, many a president, multi-billion dollar company, inventor and so on…have been impacted, urged on to success or kept together by a wife, a mother, a sister, an aunt, a cousin or a friend. New studies have shown that mothers have a far greater impact on their children’s educational achievements than fathers. American Presidents, Nixon, Reagan and more recently, Barack Obama all arrogated their rise to power in some way to the women in their lives; most of whom, were working women.
Back home in Nigeria, the impact of women has been unfettered. And I can say this authoritatively from my microcosm because I see fewer men when I attend PTA meetings at my kid’s school. In fact, the last time I attended, we were about 8 men in a hall of almost 70 people-and wait for this, 3 of the guys who attended the PTA meeting that day were teachers, leaving me and four other fathers. Something in our culture relegates women and children-and again, without ample proof to validate my stance–I think its an ideal our fathers passed down to our generation that we have failed to shake off.
On the dark side, we have seen this same culture form the basis for the acceptance of domestic violence in our society. Women’s cultural endorsement of violence at home has amplified the behavior in their children’s marriages with more cases being reported in the media than ever before. Social commentators have blamed patriarchy for the unending gender war that now poses even greater economic problems if left unchecked.
But what is patriarchy without women unhealthily accepting men as their ‘overlords’? Or the pegging of what they can become with the expectations and permission of men? The dangers of patriarchy is that, like domestic violence, it gets passed along to the next generation of men and women; victors and victims; the next husbands, the next wives, the next politicians and so on. And that’s how laws that infringe on the rights of women get passed so frequently across the world.!
Women can help shift third world economies from a largely consumer-type economies to a more productive ones by a simple shift in the kind of relationships they have with money. In my book, The Code: A Simple Story about Raising Great Women, I broach the subject of the four relationship opportunities everybody gets to have with money and in a particular order:
- Money is first for Investing: Money must be put to productive uses. Buying stocks, putting money in a productive venture that solves a problem for others like a hair dressing salon or a supermarket are ways women must relate with money in order to influence their families.
- Money is second for Saving: Money should be saved as a means of seizing opportunities when they present themselves. Teaching a saving culture can save you more than money, it can save your family members that heart ache of being harassed by debt collectors, help you pay for that much deserved vacation without breaking the bank and more than that, teach others around you the value of delaying gratification.
- Money is third for Spending: Now, many of us relate with money on this plain first, instead of on the levels of Investing and Saving. The subconscious inclination you get when you receive money is to buy things with it. And while, shoes, bags, groceries and other things you need are great, moving Spending to your third money priority would pay you off on the long haul. The emphasis on consuming will be subsumed by honing the skills of producing and conserving wealth
- Money is lastly for Giving: Giving is spending on intangibles that help our humanity attain more value. Buy giving others, we buy goodwill, fulfillment, a sense of worth. We strengthen a muscle in our brain that we are connected with others which in turn helps us to behave more unselfishly. Giving has been closely linked to helping us awaken the creative sides that help us innovate things. On the whole, it helps us create a more balanced society where we are always mindful of people around us.I go into details in the book about age-specific teaching aids we can use to communicate these 4 Relationships of Money to the girl-child for the purpose of encouraging gender equality and financial inclusion.Shifting from Spending to Investing would not only end patriarchy, it could be the one important factor in moving The Third World from a consumer economies to a producer economies, one woman at a time.