Financial Literacy for Girls: A Path towards Autonomy and Empowerment
Financial literacy is a valuable asset for everyone to possess. Nevertheless, research shows that financial literacy rates are low, overall, among youth. In a recent study of 15 countries and economies, just 12% of fifteen-year-olds demonstrated the highest level of proficiency with their personal finances, and 22% scored at the lowest proficiency levels (OECD, 2017).
Girls, particularly, need to improve their financial literacy skills to attain financial empowerment and overcome many challenges throughout their lives. On average, women still make less money than men for identical work and usually take more time off from their careers than men to raise children and care for elder relatives. These factors severely affect lifetime income and result in low personal savings for health care and retirement.
A recent survey carried out in the United States by the Girl Scout Research Institute, revealed that girls clearly identify financial literacy as an essential skill to achieve their life projects. The results of this survey portray a generation of girls who are optimistic and visualize themselves as empowered and independent. The great majority believe that gender does not constitute a barrier to accomplish their life goals and envision themselves as fully engaged in financial planning and decision-making in the future.
The vast majority of the girls surveyed have clear goals for their future: 98% wants to have a career they enjoy and expect to earn their own money rather than marry someone who could support them financially. The old archetype of women who rely on men to help them make financial decisions seems to be quite obsolescent.
However, even when 90 % of girls recognize the centrality of financial literacy in their lives, only 12% of them said they felt confident enough in this field. Gender gaps in financial literacy persist; the good news is that parents have the power to eliminate these inequalities by engaging girls in activities and age-appropriate decisions that stimulate financial and money-management skills. Financially confident parents are key influencers for their daughters.
Let me share some research-based tips that may help parents boost the financial empowerment of their daughters:
1. Get rid of gender stereotypes about girls and money. Girls have high expectations for their future in regards to education, career, and money. Do not let gender-stereotypes hold them back! Reject any biased comments or jokes about girls not being good enough at math. Encourage your daughters to pursue STEMS, finance and economics degrees. The world needs their talent in these fields!
2. Involve your daughter(s) in the daily financial tasks. Invite all girls in the family to “watch and learn” from daily financial tasks in real-life settings. For example, going to the bank or ATM, making a budget, shopping for groceries, paying bills, cashing checks, saving money, etc. It is one of the best ways to foster greater understanding of the complexities of money management. Very often children only see the spending side of money, not the whole process of earning and balancing income and expenses.
3. Support initiatives that develop financial skills. Encourage girls to take on any age-appropriate enterprises such as having a garage sale, making bead jewelry or babysitting. Let them calculate and decide how to use their earnings. This will give them insights on the value of money and the importance of having their own income to become financially independent.
Financial literacy is a powerful tool to build knowledge, confidence, and independence. Let’s become mentors and role models to empower girls and teens, so they may become self-sufficient women who can take control of their lives and plan a bright future.
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.