Financial independence in women is a fundamental tool for empowerment. It grants women the freedom to face hardship effectively.
Women economic empowerment reduces poverty and improves a community’s quality of life. A woman’s income increases a family’s consumption capacity and contributes to its financial security, buffering a household against wage reductions or unemployment. Likewise, women dedicate the majority of their salary to education, nutrition, and their children’s healthcare, which in turn stimulates social development, contributing to their families’ well-being.
Financial independence in women can also play a pivotal role in cases of domestic violence. Currently, two thirds of all countries have adopted laws to prevent domestic violence. Despite this, one in three women have suffered some sort of violence from their partners. Financial independence enables women to have the option of leaving violent or abusive situations, given that they do not depend on someone else for economic support. If they can cover their own and their children’s needs, they are more likely to gather the courage to ensure that their rights are respected.
In recent times, women have become more actively involved in economic activities. Despite these trends, many women remain financially dependent. In addition, there is a marked salary gap in which women earn less than men in the same position, holding the same responsibilities. Their working conditions make them more vulnerable; they find themselves forced to work in the informal sector without social security benefits; and existing professional segregation excludes women from certain occupational fields. Aside from cultural prejudices making financial independence for women difficult, economic crises and certain macroeconomic variables affect women more than men. For example, unemployment is higher in women than in men, and this difference widens after an economic crisis.
The growing participation of women in the workforce must also imply true economic empowerment, a cultural paradigm shift to one that does not discriminate women, and gender salary equality. There are still many employers who see hiring a woman as an inconvenience, not as a talent asset to their companies. In addition, it is necessary to distribute paid work and unpaid work between women and men equally. Domestic responsibilities must be assumed by both, so that women are not forced to carry a double burden.
Female financial independence contributes to reducing poverty and gender violence, as well as empowers women as agents of social change. However, it also contributes to sustainable economic growth.
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.