Women are particularly vulnerable to financial insecurity. Although women have made strides in the workforce, the wage gap persists. Canada is ranked as having the 8th highest gender pay gap out of a list of 43 countries, with Canadian women making, on average, 75 cents to their male counterparts’ dollar. The disparity is even more pronounced for women of colour. Lower wages lead to reduced savings and retirement funds: women 65 and older are twice as likely as men to live in poverty.
Financial insecurity is also the number one reason domestic violence survivors stay or return to abusive relationships.
Financial insecurity is also the number one reason domestic violence survivors stay or return to abusive relationships. Unfortunately, one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Known as financial abuse, victims are purposely put into positions of dependence, unable to use or maintain the financial resources necessary to leave their situations. For this reason and so many others, financial education and empowerment is a necessity for young women and girls.
It’s critical that girls have the support and skills to exercise control over their financial future, particularly those marginalized by race and class. It’s also important girls understand and assert their right to economic well-being. At Girls Inc., we provide girls with the support to build their knowledge and skills around economic literacy. They learn to manage money, explore investing, use credit wisely, understand the difference between wants and needs, and plan for their education and careers. We believe that all girls are strong, smart, and bold, but recognize that they need help overcoming social messages and pressures that make them doubt their self-worth.
Today’s girls should know they can be tomorrow’s leaders in every position and capacity.
We must provide girls with the opportunities to be financially independent and exercise control over their futures. The right tools and knowledge prepare girls to have healthy and equitable relationships, to earn and maintain a life of their choosing, and give them the confidence to know they can take care of themselves. This awareness is not only essential for their well-being — it’s key to the stability of our families, communities, and economy. Today’s girls should know they can be tomorrow’s leaders in every position and capacity.
To achieve gender equality, we must address the challenges preventing the full economic participation of women. Financial literacy for girls is a key step and trusted adults play an essential role in their education and confidence in financial matters.
Yvett Nechvatal-Drew is the Executive Director of Girls Inc. Durham.