FINANCIAL LITERACY TRENDS FOR WOMEN IN ASIA
- The overall population in Southeast Asia are well aware of the benefits of financial education and widely show an interest in increasing their financial literacy and money management skills. However, there is a significant disparity between awareness and action.
- Studies have shown that higher wages seem to have no significant correlation with levels of financial literacy, and that is especially apparent for women.
- Despite considerable economic advances in the recent decades, there has been little progress in narrowing the income discrepancy between men and women in Southeast Asia.
- All studies and web literature point to a need for improvement in the financial education.
As Southeast Asia continues to develop economically and household incomes are on the rise, the frequent question posed to the relevant government institutions and organisations is – how to improve personal financial literacy.
While the awareness of the need for financial security and how to provide it is traditionally more present at the male population, the burning issue is – the need to improve the financial literacy for women in Southeast Asia.
The results of studies – women have been stagnant in the financial literacy since the 1980's and 1990's
With the aim to improve financial literacy, many countries in Southeast Asia have already implemented financial literacy programs aimed at various segments of the population (urban, uneducated, female, unemployed, etc.). The period is still too short to be able to show the exact effectiveness of these programs.
However, certain studies show that general populations in Southeast Asia are well aware of the benefits of financial education and widely show an interest in increasing their financial literacy and money management skills. But there is a large disparity between awareness and action. Reasons for this disparity vary from lack of financial education (Indonesia, Philippines, and Malaysia), lack of trust in financial institutions (Malaysia), to perceived lack of funds (Indonesia).
One interesting fact is that higher wages in a population seem to have no significant correlation with the levels of financial literacy. This is especially apparent for women – over the last two decades, the average income for women in Southeast Asia has doubled, and yet – there remains a lack of knowledge and confidence in dealing with financial matters.
Little progress in improving the income discrepancy between men and women
Despite substantial economic growth in the last 50 years, there has not been significant progress reached to narrow the income discrepancy between men and women in Southeast Asia.
The income gap has widened significantly in the Asia Pacific, from earning 68.3% of their male counterparts in 2000 to 61.8% in 2013. Due to traditional gender roles, gender income inequality is markedly persistent and especially evident in rural regions.
Such a situation proves the necessity to thoroughly analyse and discuss the appropriate measures, with the aim to improve the economic power and quality of life of this crucial and often overlooked demographic group – women.
Importance of improving financial literacy for women in Southeast Asia – conclusion
In today´s society financial literacy is a critical skill. It is important to start an education in the field from the early age, but it would definitely have a huge impact on society´s development and stability was financial literacy thought of as a life skill.
The low results of financial literacy for women in some cultures might be linked to the fact that empowering women is still not a primary goal.
On the other hand, proofs are showing that empowered women are doing better financially. They are more committed to raising families and to providing welfare for the household and its members. Such an attitude, in the end, leads to better economic results in their society and moreover – in the overall economy.
Download the full report for reports and resources on the financial literacy of women in the Southeast Asian region – 'Financial Literacy Trends for Women in Singapore, Hong Kong Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia', issued by The New Savvy .