On Wednesday, May 14, an important online discussion will begin about including women in the world financial system. A dazzling array of experts will be on hand to answer questions. Four main topics will be open to discussion:
Financial services and capital – In many parts of the world, women are unable to have checking and savings accounts. It is very difficult for them to stay in control of their own money as a result. Their husbands, boyfriends, fathers, and other relatives will take it away from them. If they are to have a nest egg for a rainy day or an education, they need the right and the means to protect their funds.
Then there is the matter of access to capital. A lot of big noise is being out there about women’s entrepreneurship. But nobody can grow a business without capital. Experts estimate the global credit gap at a whopping $285 billion. Even where women have equal rights in a formal sense, they are subject to informal barriers that keep them from getting investments in their enterprises.
Financial Literacy – When you don’t understand money, you are vulnerable, whether you think so or not. From fraud to divorce, you are a sitting duck. Studies show over and over that women understand less about money than men. Even after programs are introduced to teach them, they lag behind. Why is that? I think it’s because they are socialized from Day 1 to believe “money is dirty.” What do you think?
Careers – The glass ceiling is lower in the financial sector than anyplace else in the world economy. I’m telling you, until we get a seat at this particular table, we will struggle. Let’s talk about the whys and the hows.
Measuring Impact -OK, so this is not everybody’s favorite topic, but it is one of mine. We need numbers to make our case. We need for people who claim to be investing in women to be accountable for impact. Women (and men) who have money and the will to help need to know how and where it is best deployed.
So, this is not some abstract conversation, but a serious discussion of life. (Did you know that domestic abuse is nearly always accompanied by financial abuse? Well, you do now.) What can you share with the rest of the world about women and money? Join in! Learn something, teach something–but be part of the conversation!
To jump on, register here: www.empowerwomen.org. This important e-discussion is being brought to you by UN Women and Power Shift: The Oxford Forum for Women in the World Economy. To learn more about Power Shift, which will open on May 27, click here.