You probably know about all the unpaid labor women take on—tasks like managing a home and caring for children – that are rarely quantified in terms of cash. While society may not acknowledge the value of her efforts, it is essential for a woman to understand just how much she amounts to financially.
Why? Say she were to suffer a long-term illness, become disabled, or suddenly pass away. Those tasks she has handled for so long will likely have to be redistributed, either to other members of her family, or to professionals. Her family must ask how it—and the household—would function without her contributions, so that her husband or partner could continue to work for financial gain.
If she is single, she must determine how she would be able to maintain her independence while redistributing the responsibilities she can no longer cover on her own. Moreover, if she were seriously injured, who would take care of her—and what would the associated costs of that care be?
Perhaps the circumstances are different, and she is navigating the dissolution of a marriage. Though the questions that arise are different, she must still understand how her worth would be computed. In this case, it’s about what her value would amount to—based on the laws unique to her state—as she negotiates a settlement during a divorce. Here, those factors that seem so hard to quantify up front really come into play.
If she had worked to support her family for years while her husband attended professional school; found, furnished, and maintained a home so he could focus on the growth of his business; and/or served as the primary caretaker for their children—giving up her own career, earning potential, and retirement funds in the process—those contributions have value.
While her financial worth may be harder to calculate than her husband’s, who may have simply worked in an office to earn a specific amount over the course of their life together, it should be represented by a monetary amount—not only so she can be compensated appropriately when funds are most needed, but also so she can determine her financial strategy going forward.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that countless studies reveal that, in our society, women are more likely to suffer financial hardship as a result of numerous outcomes. In addition to the end of a relationship, medical debt, overspending, habits and other circumstances can significantly limit a woman’s financial potential—and thus her ability to achieve her goals and thrive. But when she understands her true value to her community, she can better protect it.
In turn, society benefits from women’s financial contributions in the form of taxes, spending on discretionary and essential items alike, and more—she strengthens the economy with each dollar she spends.
With all that in mind, don’t you deserve to know your worth?