Women and money management

Our webinar started with listing some of the most common preconceptions about women and money: women would spend more, they would be more prudent with investment, and take less risk, be more altruistic, be more stressed by money. The problem is that these preconceptions are not backed up by any thorough studies that would prove that women would manage money differently than men because they are women. But these stereotypes have been used for years by the financial industry to target women, defined as a specific client segment.
What’s the problem with these stereotypes? First, they don’t analyse the facts : women don’t have a different ‘ability’ to manage money, but most women do have a different financial situation than men for three main reasons: they live longer, they earn less, and their earning life is interrupted by pregnancies and childcare. By not identifying the root causes, financial education for women does not help address women’s financial hardships. Besides, they also contribute to keeping women’s low self-confidence in money management by conveying that women are not good at money management, even though in many families, women do manage expenses for instance.

A second very important topic we discussed is matrimonial laws; when we talk about men’s money and women’s money, we overlook that in many countries, married couples’ incomes and assets are joint ownership, which implies joint responsibility, and debts are owed jointly too. Financial education should focus on workshops with couples to learn how to communicate about money, and work as a team, budget together, set priorities, file tax together, and also share information. Because women statistically outlive men, there are many cases where widows, if not involved in the family’s tax filing, or knowing where important papers are, fall into poverty, or are deprived of their rights because deeds were only in their husband’s names. We also outline the importance of writing wills. When funders require that programmes only target women, they fail to help couples manage their joint assets and incomes together and many times, women find it hard to implement what they have learned because their husbands did not attend these workshops.

A third topic we discussed was financial abuse, where the abuser takes all control of the aspect of his partner’s life, including finance. More needs to be done to raise awareness on that type of abuse.

The fourth topic was about women’s interrupted careers and the financial impact on their savings and pension. The financialisation of our lives, i.e. the necessity to work in the formal sector and earn an income in order to pay for all services and goods, including at old age, does not recognise the importance of parents’ presence – mothers and fathers – in the first three to five years of a child. Children’s wellbeing is not taken in consideration at society level, despite its huge impact. Money is not all.

Watch the recording of our webinar:

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