Building Financial Literacy, Essential for Women’s Economic Empowerment
While it is important for anyone to understand the current financial landscape in order to make better monetary decisions, it is a particularly important life skill for women in their pathway to economic empowerment. According to existing research, women around the world lag behind men on financial literacy, a key ability to become autonomous and prosperous individuals.
Earning a personal income can increase women’s autonomy and shift power relations at the household level — for example, increasing their control over how money is spent. More than half a billion women have joined the world’s labor force over the past 30 years and they now account for more than 40 percent of workers worldwide, according to the World Bank. This trend, often called the “feminization of labor,” is on the rise in almost all developing regions. Nevertheless, being able to earn an income and having access to credit, aren’t factors which by themselves automatically bring economic empowerment and equal benefits for women.
Empowerment is a multidimensional process that needs to consider a series of economic, political, social and cultural aspects. Women’s economic empowerment involves much more than financial gain; it is about women’s integral well-being, autonomy, it means equality.
Areas in which more women are accessing the labor market don’t guarantee female empowerment. The quality of said employment, equal salary, benefits, social security must also be taken into account. Women’s reality is still marked by inequalities and persistent forms of discrimination.
One of the missing parts of the economic empowerment equation, is providing women with greater financial literacy. Economic growth is not the silver bullet of empowerment if it works in isolation. Women need to learn how to make good financial decisions. It is imperative that any initiative for women’s economic empowerment also considers developing women’s financial literacy.
Therefore, one of my recent projects aims to promote flexible, financial education programs for women which are focused on boosting female financial autonomy and entrepreneurship. My goal is to help build financial capability in an engaging and inspiring way. Allowing women to navigate the financial landscape with greater agency is a way to empower them economically.
Join me in this effort to foster greater financial literacy. Partnerships across sectors are essential to multiply the impact of these initiatives. Collaboration across sectors: financial institutions, impact investors, governments, NGO’s and the corporate world, provide a multi-disciplinary approach and an enriched vision. Women’s economic empowerment through financial literacy is a fertile ground for equality and a wise path towards sustainable development.
Angélica Fuentes, Founder Equal Invest
Angélica Fuentes is a Latin American businesswoman and impact investor, who has been recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of Mexico’s most influential women.
Ms. Fuentes was appointed CEO of Grupo Imperial in 1992 and quickly positioned the company as a top player in Northern Mexico’s energy sector. Under her leadership, Grupo Imperial’s annual growth rate increased from 5% in 1992 to 9.5% in 2005. Ms. Fuentes served as President of the Business Energy Network of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Agreement (APEC) from 2002 to 2004, and as President of the Mexican Natural Gas Association from 1996 to 2000. From 2007 to 2015, she served as CEO of Grupo Omnilife-Angelissima-Chivas. Under her leadership, the company became one of the top 100 corporations in Mexico.
Throughout her career, Ms. Fuentes has dedicated significant time and resources to NGOs, international organizations and professional groups that support the cause of women. She participated in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Parity Programme, and led the Mexican Gender Parity Taskforce. She currently serves on Secretary Clinton’s International Council on Women’s Business Leadership; is member of the Private Sector Leadership Advisory Council of UN Women; is a Global Advocate for the Girl Up Campaign, a United Nations Foundation program; co-chairs the PVBLIC LATAM regional platform; is member of the Latin American Program Advisory Board of the Woodrow Wilson International Center; and is member of the Global Dignity’s International Council of Advisors.
Her work in this field has been recognized by numerous honors and awards. In 2015, UN Women gave her the Women’s Empowerment Principles CEO Leadership Award; she was the first female CEO to receive this award for championing gender equality in the private sector. In 2016, PVBLIC Foundation, Ismael Cala Foundation, and the United Nations gave her the award for Latin Woman Empowerment. In 2017, she received the Corporate Social Responsibility Award from The Maestro Cares Foundation.
Gender equality, women empowerment and the eradication of poverty have always been a priority in all her endeavors. In 2014, she established the Angelica Fuentes Foundation. In 2016, she founded A Complete and The Imperative Fund. In 2017, she founded Equal Invest, The Beauty Station and A Complete Journey.