International Women’s Day began with a gathering in 1911 and has continued as a March 8 celebration of women and their contributions around the world. This year’s theme, “each for equal,” reflects the idea that women can promote their own rights and reach out to boost equality for others, including economically.
When women experience economic gains toward equality, the world gets better. According to the International Monetary Fund, India experienced a 27% boost in GDP when women’s participation in the labor force grew.
On International Women’s Day, it’s time for all women to gain financial knowledge and confidence because each personal victory can have a compounding effect. There are many impactful ways women can share their financial experiences and support each other.
Give Women the Tools to Negotiate by Talking About Salary
Much has been written about negotiating for better salaries for women, but one tangible way to support other women’s financial equality is to disclose your own salary or wage structure. Open salary discussions are taboo partially because of the awkwardness that can result — Perhaps you’ll discover that you’re critically underpaid or that others make much less than you do. However, finances for women, especially salary information, shouldn’t be so hush-hush.
Sharing this information can empower yourself and other women economically. Discussing earning benchmarks or filling in anonymous spreadsheets can help women negotiate for a market-rate salary.
2. Emphasize Charity and Investing, Not One or the Other
In some circles, giving to charity is considered to be a more nurturing, feminine concept, while investing money for the future is treated as somehow more masculine. Increasingly, women are both nurturers and providers, and men should have equal freedom to participate in both roles.
When working with female friends and family, hold each other accountable to invest in yourselves as well as your favorites non-profits. Talk about investing for women as often as you talk about charity events or volunteering in the community. Both are important, since staying on solid financial footing enables you to continue the important philanthropic work you love.
3. Use and Share Women-Powered Financial Institutions
If you discover that a proficient female team runs a local credit union or a new investment platform, consider switching over some of your financial investments. Female executives are critically underrepresented in financial institutions, so when women see and signal-boost organizations like Ellevest and other women-powered financial institutions, they are voting with their dollars for greater gender equality at the top of financial companies.
As we view more women at the top, we also see them gaining the financial confidence to start their own businesses. Seeing women represented and taking the initiative in finance is meaningful to other women and inspires us all.
4. Mentor a Fellow Woman for Career and Financial Success
You don’t need to have all the answers to be a mentor for another woman. Instead, be a listening ear and someone willing to wade through financial research with her. Studies have shown that women’s ability to do personal finance well is deeply tied to self-efficacy, the belief that they are capable. Women who feel confident and supported are more prepared to take necessary but calculated risks that can pay off in big ways down the road.
If you see a means to give high-potential women a boost in their careers, through glowing recommendations or introductions, for instance, take the time to advocate for them. If your friend wants to launch a business and doesn’t know how to get a business loan, work with her to figure out the details. These small instances of mentorship create significant benefits in future equality.
5. Join Networking Groups To Share, Not Just to Gain
Many of us start our networking journeys in order to make connections to move our own careers forward or to learn how to boost our own income. However, when you join an organization that helps women in your community or even a social media group for women, start from the perspective of what you have to share.
Do you have connections, insight into investments or a great experience with a local financial institution to share? Not only does this choice make the experience of a new networking group less intimidating, but it also brings more women in by making the group a valuable source of information and support.
6. Be Honest When You Don’t Know and Learn Together
Have the confidence to recognize and acknowledge that many women may not be starting this path with less financial education than their male peers. This isn’t true of every woman, but a combination of factors in society leaves women, on average, less financially educated. A study by Florida State University found that personal finance education closes this gap and moves women forward with the kinds of equality they want to achieve.
Longer lifespans and lower retirement savings rates make women 80% more likely to be financially insecure at ages 65 and older compared to men. Some women may feel like they’re still scrambling to get the knowledge they need to make our own personal finance decisions. Others worry about their financial situation or associate financial choices with negative experiences from the past.
Exploring financial literacy resources and learning more about compounding interest empowers women and improves personal knowledge. Let’s keep “each for equal” as our mantra as we move forward and support other women in their personal finance goals on International Women’s Day and every other day as well.
International Monetary Fund, multiple authors. “Women, Work, and the Economy: Macroeconomic Gains From Gender Equity.” Accessed March 5, 2020.
Lisa Farrell, Tim Fry, Leonora Risse. Journal of Economic Psychology. “The significance of financial self-efficacy in explaining women’s personal finance behaviour.” Accessed March 5, 2020.
Maiya Moncino. Council on Foreign Relations. “How Social Media Has Reshaped Feminism.” Accessed March 5, 2020.
National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare. “Women and Retirement: The Gender Gap Persists.” Accessed March 5, 2020.
Ronald E. Goldsmith. “The Effects of Investment Education on Gender Differences in Financial Knowledge.” Accessed March 5, 2020.