Women and financial literacy

finance

Financial literacy is necessary for everyone with gender no bar. However, the sad part is women lag behind in financial literacy big time.

This is an issue less addressed probably either most of us shy away admitting it and above all the male population is not aware of it all. A large segment of women, not only in India but abroad as well avoids dealing with financial/ banking jargon and tasks.

Cash flow, debit, credit, insurance, loans, rate of interest, savings … too much to handle?

As banks and finance is all about our money, in order to stay safe and avoid any blunder we ask the male members to deal a large part of it. A recent literacy study conducted by the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center checked the degree of knowledge among men and women about the stock market, inflation and interest rates. The results were really disappointing and bothersome. The percentage of men was 16 percent higher than the women participated in the survey.

This isn’t a matter of negligence rather a major setback on terms of progression of the globe. Among various kinds of gender gaps, this is another major kind of gap mostly women deal, nation / continents no bar. The incompetence in financial literacy makes the women face darn repercussions in their daily life. They find themselves in deep water the moment they fall under situations that barge them to deal with all of all alone. These circumstances also lead to further worse situation like crossing of deadlines, defaulting the loans, dealing with taxes and many more.

This issue needs attention and each one us must take initiatives to improvise the trajectory of financial literacy in women. There are several initiatives coming up lately that are imparting financial literacy and bridging the gap worldwide. Some of such organizations serving for this noble deed are – The Women’s Institute for Financial Education (WIFE), The Financial Literacy Organization for Women and Girls (FLOW), Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) and The Financial Women’s Association to name a few.

The literate women can take the aid of the free online resources available on finance. They give you a clear picture of the entire finance scenario – of things you do not understand related to your bank account. Enroll yourself into financial literacy programs – a step that will empower you more than ever before. These programs help women to sharpen their basic banking, investing and saving skills.

A proper financial literacy will save you from all the tough times in life, whether you are just a housewife or a working woman. Having the knowledge of financial jargon is always something you will never ever regret.

Mantra of being a happy late bloomer: The early bird catches the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese!

anne

There is always a flower in the garden that always blooms much later than the others. Similarly, there are people in life who are generally the late bloomers in various facets of their life. They tend to achieve things in life, a bit late than the usual.

I have always been one such late bloomer all my life. In every aspect of my life, I admit I have been a pretty good late bloomer.

Usually it is said: The early bird catches the worm.

But, would like to remind another quote: ‘Blessed is the Second mouse for he shall inherit the Cheese.’

So, even if you aren’t on time where you are supposed to be like the others, it is absolutely alright.

The life has a nice plan for you, need not fret about it. Have faith in the supreme power or at least on yourself (in case you are an atheist.) The right things happen at the right time, in the right way.

All my life, at every step life has taught me this simple fact. Be it my admission in a good school, graduate or post graduate college or getting a job; Every phase I was taught the same thing. The right and best for you, comes at the right time and in a form that is perfect for you.

I won’t boast saying that I got what was the best. Rather, I would say, I got what was best for ME.

Probably, that is why I am happy and contented right now, with what I have in my life. And above all, I value it because I got it after a lot of yearning for that particular stuff.

Being a late bloomer also has a lot associated which are not rosy, at all. People initially may consider you useless (chuck). Most of them leave considering that you don’t have a future, only few shall stay. Many will mock you, as well.

But, in this entire process, one good thing that you may learn is: to stay strong and stand for what you feel is right. NO MATTER WHAT.

In history as well, some of the biggest personalities have been regarded as the late bloomers. So, there is simply nothing to be embarrassed of, if you are one of them. IT’S ABSOLUTELY FINE.

It’s your life, it’s your journey. Live it the way you want to live it. Rest shall follow.

Well, there is another secret reason why I simply love being a late bloomer. I LOVE GIVING SURPRISES!! (Wink). Try having a look of the faces of the people once detested you. You shall know why I am saying this. (Winks)

Being a late bloomer gives you a chance to check and test who are your truest friends. The real ones are gonna stay no matter what. So, go ahead and be a proud Late Bloomer!!!!

 

 

What is Step It Up Campaign: Planet 50-50 by 2030

 

50-50-ii

The world has been struggling since many years over gender equality. United Nations Women had come up with this agenda of creating a 50-50 planet where all women and girls will have equal rights as well as opportunities by the year 2030. This Step It Up initiative was started on International Women’s Day of 2015.

About some 80 world leaders, have come forward to commit for eradication of gender equality gap through this Step It Up Campaign.  Concrete and considerable actions have been requested to take to end discrimination against women. National commitments including national action plans, investments, change of policies and laws and more have been announced.

No other sole issue was given so much of importance and political consideration as this, at the UN Summit on 25-27 September under the adoption of Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals. Step It Up has come up at the right time that is now! The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development gives a complete map towards the future of the entire planet, gender no bar. Encouraging and empowering the women and girls is vital to attain the Sustainable Development Goals.

Commitments that are made every year involve a wide spectrum of issues speaking of the most critical barriers for women and girls, such as bringing equality for women at all stages of decision-making, cumulative investments towards gender equality, eradicating biased lawmaking, and focusing over social norms that propagate discrimination and violence against the women segment.

Steps that are primary to safeguard women’s economic empowerment in work place including bridging the gender pay gap are committed; acknowledging women’s unpaid domestic work and concentrating over the gender insufficiency in services, poverty reduction and sustainable growth.

Moreover, policies and laws must consider the overwhelming mass of women in the informal economy, encourage women’s reach to advanced technologies and trainings, civilized work and climate-resilient occupations and safeguard women from violence in the work place.

Every year International Women’s Day, UN Women calls upon participants to Step It Up for Gender Equality to achieve a Planet 50:50 by 2030. This time the theme for International Women’s Day, 8 March, 2017, is “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50:50 by 2030”.

The world is working towards this new development agenda, for the expiration of gender inequality. NOW is the time! Each one of us must start doing our bit right from today!

The unacknowledged & underrated aspect of Olympics: Sisterhood of sportsmanship; still alive

wheelchair

This year, the Rio Olympics 2016 has displayed many proud incidents that have captured the true Olympian spirit, especially that aspect of this world famous sports event, which goes unacknowledged and underrated. That is the undying sisterhood of sportsmanship.

Rio Olympics has shown us two very such incidents that have proved that the Olympics Games are not only about countries competing each other for medals, rather something much more dynamic than that. It is about people uniting with each other and helping each other in the times of crisis, even if that needed sacrificing a position in the competition.

To begin with, the selfie that created a lot of stir in the media. Yes, the brief moment of unity, where the gymnasts, Lee Eun-ju of South Korea and Hong Un-jong of the North took a quick selfie together smiling, at the time of training prior the beginning of the Games.

selfie

While North and South Korea are technically facing a lot of tension in recent months with each, with latest missile launches from Pyongyang; these two women have truly captured the Olympic spirit.

The political scientist Ian Bremmer also tweeted, “This is why we do the Olympics.”

Meanwhile few take it with a cynical point of view, most of them hailed it as one of the most iconic photo of the Olympics Games.

Now moving on to one of the greatest acts of not only sportsmanship but sisterhood got displayed on the running 5000m track, where Kiwi and American runners help each other all through till the end, after they collided with each other.

race-track

Nikki Hamblin, of New Zealand, and Abbey D’Agostino, of the US, collided at the time of a preliminary warmup for the women’s 5,000-meter race at the Olympics Rio games. Instead of attempting to catch up, D’Agostino chose to help the fallen Hamblin to get up her feet. Hamblin later returned the kindness when D’Agostino collapsed in the race later on.

Both the women crossed the finish line together and hugged each other once the race was finished. It was one of the most touching moments of the Olympics. D’Agostino had torn her ACL and meniscus and both the women had lost their chances to win a position in the game, but their heart touching act of sportsmanship have made them win a rare honorary award, the Pierre de Coubertin medal.

hug

This medal has been named in honor of the French founder of the modern Olympic Games. Inaugurated in 1964, since then only 17 have been granted worldwide.  Out of which 16 have been awarded to men. The only time when the Pierre de Coubertin medal was awarded to a woman was in the 2007 to Elena Novikova-Belova, a former Soviet fencer and four-time Olympic champion in foil competitions.

How a trip to Singapore made me taste true safety and freedom

How a trip to Singapore made me taste true safety and freedom

Myself being a Delhi girl, have always faced a life full of inhibitions and fear. This fact isn’t hidden that the city has its terror on over the inhabitants, especially over the women. We women over here are taught to remain cynical, to remain over cautious while moving outside, and to get back home as early as possible if you want to stay safe.

Many people in Delhi have not held themselves back to set examples through their heinous crimes as to what degree our city is unsafe. Through the infamous Nirbhaya case and many other cases that happen every minute, not only within the city but other various parts of our Mother India as well.

Recently I made a trip to two countries of South East Asia, Malaysia and Singapore. Although it was merely a holiday trip to just another two parts of the world, but going there and experiencing the countries closely was a different stuff altogether. Reaching there I came across a fact (initially I didn’t bother to do a research over these places) that Singapore is currently the safest country in the world, leaving behind Qatar to the second position.

I was not aware how exactly being in the ‘safest country’ would feel like until I experienced it hands on. The day our travelling group reached Singapore, we were informed that as it’s a safe place you can always roam around in the nights safely, do your shopping freely whole night. For that matter of fact, there was also a mall in Singapore, the Mohammad Mustafa mall that remained open 24X7 for those who want to go for shopping overnight.

mustafa mall

Initially we were reluctant with this thought of going around at night until we were impelled to do so. Our itinerary was set in a way that we were given time to do all our personal shopping after the dinner that is after 10. So we 4 women planned to give it a shot; after the dinner we walked down to the mall. While moving on roads I came across scenarios that made me dumbstruck. The scene there on roads, at the shopping complex and inside the mall was nothing like you would see in eerie hours of Delhi.

The place was full of lively people, moving in and out of the mall. The place looked just as it looks while you are at a Delhi shopping complex at the evening time. People were sitting and chit chatting with each other; Inside the mall families, men, women doing their shopping for their daily household grocery stuffs in full throttle. What an amazing sight and sense it was! The sense of safety that I was having standing right there is beyond imagination.

After the shopping we hired a taxi and got back to our hotel which we were staying. The taxi experience too was totally amazing. The taxi driver was pretty sincere to ensure that we reach our destination safely and in the shortest time. After this experience, as long as we were in Singapore, we made sure to hit the mall at nights and complete our shopping wish lists.

This sense of safety wasn’t confined to one mall or place; rather it was spread all over the Singapore. The other shopping malls I visited around there too echoed that freedom of conduct in public. Here by freedom, I don’t only mean freedom by laws but the freedom people gave to each other to remain and carry themselves the way they want to.

13497828_1234037913282776_578089270907853704_o

Truly, Singapore gave me the taste of what living freely can be, that too by remaining safe and without the dirty looks that you may get over here for being you. Yes, there were rules within the country, rather a bit more than ours, but that what makes Singapore a beautiful, ordered, safe and good place to stay.

How the dispute of a father and son may have deprived us of another Taj Mahal: The ‘Black Taj’

the-black-taj-mahal_7

A visit to the Black Taj Mahal that never got built

Yes you heard it right, the Black Taj Mahal. Everybody on earth is pretty aware of Shah Jahan’s extravagant display of love for his wife Mumtaz, the seventh wonder of the world, The Taj Mahal. But according to legends Shah Jahan had a much bigger plan than this that would give the concept of love a new definition.

Shah Jahan had planned to a build mirror image of the white Taj Mahal he built for Mumtaz, though in black, on the other side of the river and the two would be connected by a bridge. This Black Taj was to be a dedication to Shah Jahan himself. Even a European traveler named Jean Baptiste Tavernier who visited Agra in 1665 has first mentioned about this Black Taj in his spectacular writings.

There are many points that support this belief such as:

  • Shah Jahan’s obsession with symmetry was pretty evident through the way the ‘White’ Taj Mahal was created. The octagonal internal room, a clear designer border around Mumtaz’s cenotaph, the four minarets and so on. The Taj Mahal has been a perfect example of symmetry. But there have been many things that seem to be out of plan, that go off symmetry. Such as the placement of Shah Jahan’s cenotaph (that was done much later) disassembles the symmetry of the burial chamber. The view from up clearly shows the off center placement of the cenotaphs.

Figure 1: Picture clearly shows the marble carved border was not meant to have two cenotaphs within it. Mumtaz’s cenotaph is in the center. Whereas Shah Jahan’s cenotaph seems to pushed to the corner left.

black taj 1

  • Again following up the idea of ‘Shah Jahan’s obsession with symmetry’, the much later placed Shah Jahan’s cenotaph it is bigger in size when compared to the cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal. This again justifies that the emperor never had a plan to have his cenotaph placed in here; otherwise he would have made the Mausoleum built according to that.

Plus there is something more that cannot go unnoticed. The cenotaph of Mumtaz has its separate border. Whereas the emperor’s cenotaph, not only is without one but also overlaps the queen’s cenotaph border. This, in whole is very ‘off the plan’ stuff making the entire idea of Black Taj Plan more and more credible.

Figure 2: The difference in size in apparent in the picture along with the overlapping of Mumtaz cenotaph’s border by Shah Jahan’s cenotaph.

black taj 2

  • More credibility was added to the story when an observation was done over layout of the area where the present day ‘white’ Taj Mahal is standing. Several traces have been found on the other side of the river Yamuna which were probably the foundation of the Black Taj Mahal. The Mehtab Burj and the wall adjacent to it opposite the Taj Mahal are said to be the left over remains of the anticipated plan.
  • Several writings of Tavernier included that that Shah Jahan began to put up his own tomb on the opposite side of the river but could never complete it as he was ousted by his own son Aurangzeb.

Whatever be the fact, one thing is for sure; if this Black Taj Mahal would have got built it would have been one of the most beautiful creations on earth and India would have added on another feather on the cap of having two greatest wonders of the world.

Diplomacy: A tool to rule the world or a tool that rules the world?

diplomacy-27909010

I somewhere always had a wish to be a part of external affairs and become a diplomat professionally. I remember myself expressing this dream of mine, to one of my friends. But nevertheless I landed up being a writer! (Psst!, Though I am really loving this.)

But it isn’t that this dream of mine hasn’t fulfilled. Yes! It has indeed come true; though I am not a diplomat professionally, but entering the work life started teaching what diplomacy is all about.  Suddenly one day I realized even I can become into one of the kind ‘characteristically’.

Now what exactly is diplomacy? In normal definition, the word diplomacy is termed as “a skill of negotiating, especially between states or the people”. So this stuff is not only carried out on political level basis, but on a social level as well.

I probably feel every second ‘diplomatic’ person is a diplomat in his or her own way, handling relations tactfully, which is surrounding their own lives. I never personally favoured this particular element of the society. Neither this write-up of mine is an ‘against’ or a ‘for’ motion stuff on diplomacy or diplomatic people. This is simply a light thrown on all I came concluded as the time passed by.

  • It’s nothing new; it has always been a part of the society, it still is and will always be till the end of the time.
  • Probably the happiest and smartest is the one who excels in diplomacy. (May be that’s why this is something implemented in sorting out the world’s biggest international matters, so somewhere this is really not irrelevant)
  • Practice makes man perfect, especially when it comes to the art of diplomacy.
  • Nothing on earth is pure black or pure white. It’s actually all ‘grey’ and how you use your ‘grey matter’ in dealing those ‘grey matters’ (Pun Intended) with DIPLOMACY is the key to all!
  • Last but not the least; Diplomacy is not only the tool that is being used in ruling the world, but also a tool that RULES the world.

So either to excel in it and be a part of the game or stay out of the game and go with the flow as and where the tides take you along! Choice is all yours. As it is said, “Nothing in the world is completely wrong. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day”.