International Women’s Day is tomorrow, Friday, March 8, 2019. The 2019 theme is “Balance for Better.”
March 8 was established as the day to celebrate International Women’s Day by the United Nations in 1975. On this day in 1917 women in the Soviet Union gained suffrage. It became an international event to celebrate the accomplishments of women as well as to focus on the gaps that continue to exist.
The “Balance for Better” 2019 campaign theme is intended to inspire an international grassroots effort to build gender balance in the world. March 8 will be the kick-off day for a year of activities designed to reach this goal.
International Women’s Day: Gender Balance in Economies
Gender balance in economies has not yet been achieved. However, financial technology products have made an enormous contribution toward closing the gap. Fintech products such as peer-to-peer lending and mobile banking have opened channels for women to access financial resources. Fintech apps enable women, especially in developing nations, to initiate microbusiness and lift themselves, their families and villages out of poverty.
Online lending has created a channel whereby women no longer need to go through the tedious, time-consuming bank loan process that typically results in rejection. Today, with P2P platforms, a woman can access loans from anyplace in the world. She can secure financing for debt consolidation, education, starting a small business, relocating, remodeling her home and many other objectives.
Gender Gap in Financial Literacy
The gender gap in financial literacy persists and the ramifications of this are significant. A National Financial Capability Study published in 2016 found that women consistently score lower on tests measuring financial literacy. Poor financial literacy skills impact your financial well-being. The result is more debt and less money invested in retirement, emergency savings and other accounts that contribute to financial health.
Financial literacy is a key component in building a foundation for financial stability later in life. Being comfortable with money, learning how to develop a financial plan and budget, and understanding the basics of financial management is the only way to ensure a healthy financial future.
A combination of factors puts women at greater financial risk, and without financial literacy skills, she is ill-equipped to handle them. Women still earn less than men. Women hold almost two-thirds of the total national student loan debt and they take longer to pay it off. But it is not only student loans. Women are more in debt across many categories including credit card debt, auto loans, and medical bills. Women are more likely to find themselves living alone later in life due to divorce or widowhood. With poor financial literacy skills, a woman can easily find herself living an impoverished and debt-ridden life in her senior years.
What Can You Do?
There will be many activities around the world this International Women’s Day. Visit their website to learn more about what may be going on in your community. However, remember the celebration is a kick-off to a year of work focused on balance—gender equity. Make it personal. If your financial skills are not so great, make a plan now for how to improve.
Parents—you can start today with your daughters. Messages about money and the subsequent relationship with money usually come from childhood memories. If you exclude them now, they will learn to exclude themselves from money decisions later. Teach your daughters about the source of money, how to plan and budget for a purchase, the impact of debt on their well-being, and the importance of saving money.
Adults—there are many resources to help you improve your financial literacy skills. Scan your local magazines and newspapers for campus offerings. Digital financial literacy sites are abundant, such as the Women’s Institute for Financial Education, Savvy Ladies, Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement, or FLOW.
You can start to change your financial health today:
- Check your credit report, make sure everything is accurate
- Make a budget
- Pay your bills on time
- Get rid of your credit card debt
- Open a savings account for emergencies and life goals
- Invest in your retirement accounts
Stay in touch with our blog which is filled with tips to help you get started and stay on track.