The gender finance gap and empowering women’s freedom is still elusive to 980 million women around the world
The complicated reality is that social norms exert a powerful influence over the roles women are expected to play in society. Women’s economic empowerment is just as entangled in social norms around health, education, family planning, and childcare responsibilities as it is around issues of how the gender finance gap and empowering women can earn a living and maintain control over resources.
The situation that women face when it comes to financial wellbeing is dire and must be addressed. Due to several factors including systemic inequalities, gender stereotypes, and roles, women earn and save less money, and they are less likely to optimize how they invest to build wealth.
Gender finance gap and empowering women can make differences in financial inclusion which have far-reaching effects on women’s quality of life and autonomy, their families, and their communities, putting them at risk of financial fragility and poverty, especially in times of crisis. Women have been disproportionately affected during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as by the climate crisis. Women also tend to live longer than men, which has led to some estimates in Germany putting 75% of women between 35-50 years old at risk of poverty in old age.
Financial feminism addresses the gender finance gap and empowers women by engaging, educating, and encouraging more women to take control of their finances, as well as raising awareness across society to support these urgent mindset changes. Here are four ways to take part in the movement :
Become more fearless:
Women universally lag behind men in financial literacy, which impacts their ability to make sound financial decisions, participate in the stock market, plan for retirement, and build wealth. The recent research found that one-third of the gender financial literacy gap can be explained by women’s lack of confidence. The paper concludes that when it comes to financial literacy, women know less than men, but they know more than they think they know.
Improving women’s experience with investing might also build more confidence, for example, learning-by-doing by investing in the stock market with very low amounts. Dr. Mara Harvey suggests that we start educating children about financial topics early. She has created a children’s book series that breaks down the financial jargon into easy-to-understand concepts with rhymes and illustrations.
Surround yourself with female role models:
On the social media platforms, there is something to be said about surrounding oneself with role models and the gender finance gap and empowering women by educating that makes one feel part of a bigger movement towards financial equality. TikTok and social media star Tori Dunlap believe that having a financial education is a woman’s best form of protest. Her podcast, aptly titled Financial Feminist reached No. 1 in Apple Business charts within 72 hours of being launched in May 2021, highlighting the current appetite for women talking about finance.
It will help women become accountable, ditch debt, save money, and build real wealth. Surrounding yourself with female financial role models normalizes talking about money, investing, asking for equal pay, and building wealth.
Lean on your employer, school, the local council:
Today, individuals are increasingly responsible for looking after their finances. Reductions in state-supported pensions, a shift from defined benefits pensions to defined contribution pensions, and relatively easy access to credit mean that the financial decisions that we make have a profound impact on our quality of life now and in the future.
Employers have a role to play in educating and empowering their workforces and thankfully they are willing to take on the challenge. A recent survey found that four in five employers are looking to develop a financial wellbeing strategy in the next two years. Companies leading the way are proactively adopting financial wellness tech solutions such as nudge or promoting financial wellbeing through their women’s networks.
Connect with and advocate for all your sisters:
Women are a diverse group in their own right and we must interact with, listen to, consider and support women who are disproportionately impacted by the gender finance gap and empower women with inequalities. This could mean reflecting on one’s privileges and demanding that the experience of women from all parts of society are included in financial feminist efforts. The initiative Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap is a great starting point that provides reports and resources to support Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other women of color, women who are immigrants, women who are LGBTQ, and other women who are economically marginalized.
There are also common grounds with women advancing other causes such as climate feminists. Katherine K. Wilkinson and Ayana Elizabeth Johnson’s book All We Can Save aptly describe feminine traits as being important to address the climate crisis, which also applies to financial feminism: collaboration, connection, compassion, and creativity.