Financial inclusion of women promotes gender equity

By on September 7, 2015

Countless issues around women in society and the workplace are raised – and rightly so. Issues of education, inequality and economic exclusion often dominate these discussions, to the detriment of topics such as how women can and should achieve financial independence by taking control of their money.

This issue is not the preserve of the world’s wealthy women, indeed empowering women of all cultures and income levels to take control of their finances is vital to the ongoing debate around women’s equality.

According to FNB’s Gugu Sidaki: “Women are increasingly becoming breadwinners and making more than their partners, but it is scary that they fall short when it comes to money management. This comes down to a lack of information and knowledge. But women are also intimidated by financial matters.”

The World Bank Group, which works to promote the financial inclusion of women into financial services in order to achieve gender equity and poverty reduction, notes that women make up 40% of the world’s workforce and between 30-37% of all small and medium-sized businesses in emerging markets. Yet they face greater challenges than men in gaining access to financial services.

The Global Findex, which measure how people save, borrow and manage risk in 148 countries, notes that, in developing economies, women are 20% less likely than men to have an account at a formal financial institution and 17% less likely to have borrowed formally in the past year. The Index shows that, even if women can gain access to a loan, they often lack access to other financial services, such as savings, digital payment methods and insurance.

The World Bank’s Gender at Work report (2014) notes: “On virtually every global measure, women are more economically excluded than men.”

Turning these statistics on their head requires the empowerment of women around financial issues from an early age. Basic savings mechanisms like a bank account or unit trust investing are a good place to start, says Sidaki. The long-term benefits of this approach will impact a girl child’s future as well as that of her family. “Girls are more likely to succeed in life if the mother is employed,” she notes, pointing out that this corporate exposure puts women into contact with financial matters and imparts knowledge and know-how around money. In turn, they take these learnings home and instil them in their children.

The release of the The Status of Women in the SA Economy report has thrown the state of financial literacy among South African women into stark relief, says Sidaki.

The report states: “Women score significantly lower relative to men in areas of financial control, financial planning, choosing financial products and general knowledge and understanding of finance. This lack of financial literacy can keep women from being able to know what financial products are available to them and how to utilise them to improve their economic situation.”

It is essential that South Africa – and indeed Africa – turns this situation around, argues Sidaki. “It is only through empowering women to control their finances that we can empower them to control their lives,” she says.

Issued by FNB Financial Advisory

For more information please contact:

Fundiswa Mbuqe

Communications Manager: FNB Financial Advisory

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