Challenging the Status Quo: Female Financial Empowerment
I had a conversation the other day about female financial empowerment. It began with someone stating that women need to be taught how to be financially empowered. Initially, I was taken aback. I didn’t fit into that category and didn’t want other women to fit in that category either. I had a credit score in the 800’s by the time I was 23; I have built up a retirement savings, taken advantage of every penny on employer 401k match programs, and most recently learned how to invest in stocks and mutual funds.
But after subsequent discussions with female friends from different walks of life, I’ve come to realize I am in the minority. Like some women of my generation, I grew up with a traditional family dynamic. My mother stayed at home and raised five children, while my father worked his way up in corporate America (and Canada) to provide for his family. My mother taught me everything I needed to know about love, compassion, friendship, courage, right and wrong, and how to cook (probably wasn’t listening when she taught me that one).
My father took the time to teach me what I needed to know about work ethic, determination, leadership, and financial sustainability. The latter was one of the most powerful things he could have taught me. Women are becoming more financially independent, but there is still a gap in the number of women who take charge of their finances. In a survey conducted by Ameriprise, 41% of women said that they make their financial decisions alone, and only 37% considered themselves the primary manager of finances for their households.
For such a traditional upbringing, it was progressive of my father to teach his daughters about financial independence. In most countries, working women earn on average 60-75% of men’s wages. It is calculated that women could increase their income globally by up to 76% if the employment participation gap and the wage gap between women and men were closed. This is calculated to have a global value of USD 17 trillion, according to UN Women.
My parents took the crucial step in teaching me about finances at a young age. I will teach my children these skills one day, and in a future very soon I hope there won't be a need for female financial empowerment. This isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s a global issue, and it’s up to all of us to empower each other.