Why financial literacy is the key to empowering women
An email from an online book seller dropped into the inbox celebrating stories and achievements of women in publishing to mark the upcoming International Women's Day.
I was presented with two pages of great books either about women or written by women: novels, of course, inspirational personal and business stories, self-help, health and diet books. As I scrolled through the list it became obvious the topic of financial education for women was absent from the collection of celebrated books.
Over the past year or so, there have been a number of very valuable Australian personal finance books for women, think The Joy of Money -- The Australian Woman's Guide to Financial Independence (Kate McCallum and Julia Newbould) and my own Shareplicity - A Simple Approach to share investing.
It is well documented that women retire with less in savings and many are struggling post-divorce in their later years. The ongoing abuse and discrimination of women continue to dominate Australia's discourse. It has been proven that very often men use money to control, and this can lead to toxic relationships and abuse.
So on IWD, perhaps we should remind ourselves that one of the greatest gifts we can give women is financial literacy. We should celebrate books that educate and empower women to maintain or take control of the money they earn.
My career and life choices have given me financial choice, independence, freedoms and the ability to move beyond being controlled by money. Almost forty years ago I was offered the opportunity to train in the institutional share investing industry. It provided a springboard to an amazing career in Sydney and London and a lifelong love for improving financial education - my own and that of other women.
This resulted in a long-term dream of writing my book in 2020 on share investing and promoting to hundreds of readers (many of them women) who often contacted me directly to thank me for making share investing a subject that they understand better after reading my book.
Personal finance books may not be 'sexy' enough to feature on IWD celebratory book lists - and no doubt they don't sell in the same numbers as the Bridgerton series - but finance books written for women and by women are no less deserving of recognition than those who write on the other topics or self-help, body image, cuisine, fiction and biographies. Equally, female authors in the financial sector serve as positive role models to other women to take the first steps to financial engagement.
My wish for International Women's Day is that amidst all the promotion of the brilliant stories about women and for women, those who support the day will not forget the important sector of finance and financial literacy.
Like any education, knowledge is powerful and financial choice is no less important.