We’ve often spoken about the increasing importance of financial literacy for women. They generally outlive men, have shorter working years, and are still earning less than men. This creates an even greater need for women to be financially independent and secure. What’s unfortunate is that historically, women have fallen behind their male counterparts on this front.
Interestingly though, we’re beginning to see evidence that the gap is closing – particularly in developing countries.
Yesterday, we released the results of the latest MasterCard Index of Financial Literacy. Based on a survey of close to 7,000 respondents across 14 Asia/Pacific markets, the Index reveals a promising picture of financial understanding across the region. What I found particularly interesting was that women showed slightly better scores for financial literacy than men in emerging markets such as Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia. For instance, in the Philippines, women went from being just below the gender parity line in 2010 to bettering men by 9% in 2012.
We’re encouraged by the transition to a cashless society. Enabling women to keep their own accounts in a virtual bank, using their mobile phones to pay bills; purchase necessities and receive payment, contributes to their financial literacy and independence. But while MasterCard’s latest research on financial literacy has shown that more women are gaining dominance in terms of money management, we still believe there is room for improvement, and this is why our philanthropic efforts are focused on furthering financial inclusion through entrepreneurship.
This can be seen through initiatives like our recent collaboration with SEWA, an organization that helps women in India secure employment opportunities, empowering them to self-reliance with supportive services. The initiative aims to provide women and girls with the skills that they will need to launch their own businesses and ultimately achieve positive economic outcomes for themselves, their families and their communities.
So tell us what you think. What are some of the other ways we can encourage financial inclusion around the world?