For First Nations Women, Financial Self-Care Is An Act Of Generational Healing

‘Break the Bias’ is a broad theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, an acknowledgement of the endless forms of bias women experience daily, and have for thousands of years. And that’s before we even begin to explore the impact of intersectionality and the multitude of biases that come with it.
As much as today is a call to action for people to break the biases they may have against others, I want to use this day to ask all women, especially my fellow First Nations women, to reflect on the internalised bias you may hold, as the first step to overcoming the self-limiting beliefs that come with it.
Internalised bias is when a person believes that the stereotypes and the misinformation they hear are true about themselves. Sadly, this results in self-limiting beliefs, which often for First Nations women, are part of generational patterns of historical trauma.

Too often, women are taught to associate the term ‘self-care’ with skin-deep solutions; face masks, herbal tea or a yoga class.

Larisha jerome
I am a proud Jarowair, Wakka Wakka and Wulli Wulli woman from South East Queensland, and I grew up on Darug Country in Western Sydney. I was raised in a housing commission by a single mother, who took care of us despite the fact that money was scarce. We had a complete lack of financial literacy education and it was not something ever spoken about within my family, mostly because of the past history of our people; the generational systemic oppression leading to long-standing internalised bias. Growing up thinking that financial wellbeing was not attainable meant that I accumulated some damaging beliefs about myself, but I was lucky enough to become the first person in my family to break those generational patterns, and the first person in my family to buy my own home.
Too often, women are taught to associate the term ‘self-care’ with skin-deep solutions; face masks, herbal tea or a yoga class. Breaking the mould, we are now seeing more young women are wanting to make financial wholeness a form of their own self-care. Women are wanting to invest in their own financial education, to achieve financial stability, as a form of deep-seated and long-standing self-care.
From my own experience, I can tell you that this journey takes commitment; we live in a patriarchal society and its systems were never built to support us. As a First Nations woman having worked in banking, health and government, it was certainly challenging to navigate the idea of an Indigenous collective, along with gender bias and the capitalist economy. It is tough, but it is worth it. After all, financial self-care will always carry more weight than any dollar value will, and will feel better than any short-lived spa session.
As First Nations women, we have 60,000 years of ancestry behind us, which will always be with us. We have proven over centuries that we can survive and thrive, and we have done so by staying true to ourselves and our culture, all while honouring our strength as women. As matriarchs, we have always had a cultural responsibility to take care of everyone and to heal others. But before we look to heal others, we must look at healing ourselves, and the biggest thing we can do for ourselves is to break down any internal biases we may have, and quash any self-limiting beliefs.
Passing the technique of self-healing on to others is how we can inspire the women around us, and create generational healing, and true generational change. I am so grateful that my work affords me the opportunity to redress the economic injustice that First Nations women face, and empower women to achieve financial wellness and economic independence. It’s been a pleasure to create an Indigenous women-led project and a platform that allows our First Nations women to connect, share lived experiences, seek guidance and gain knowledge. Mentally, we want to achieve financial wellness, spiritually, we want to achieve financial contentment, and physically, we want to achieve financial freedom, and when this balance is achieved, we attain overall holistic financial health.
By prioritising culture, addressing trauma, supporting healing and promoting safety for the First Nations community, together we can make space for women to take their power back. Because when women are in their power and they have the means to make an impact, that’s when lives can truly change.
Larisha Jerome is a Community Engagement and Project Officer at First Nations Foundation, which aims to redress the economic injustice that Indigenous women face, empowering them to achieve long-term financial prosperity and create intergenerational wealth across Indigenous families and communities.
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