Empowering women to strengthen their financial literacy

By Jane Rooney, Canada’s Financial Literacy Leader

March 7, 2017

March 8th is International Women’s Day, which is a good time to empower women to improve their financial literacy and wellbeing.

Last year, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development released a report ranking countries on their financial literacy levels. Canada tied Norway for third place out of 29 countries, behind France and Finland. It was the first time Canada was included in the survey, and I was very pleased with the results. But it also revealed gaps, including a gender gap.

More than 70% of Canadian men scored high on financial knowledge compared to 50% of women. More specifically, women scored lower than men on questions about compound interest and inflation.

These results were consistent with data from the Canadian Financial Capability Survey. The latest results from that survey, which the government fields every five years and was last fielded in 2014, showed that 15% of women, compared to 22% of men, were able to correctly answer five questions on basic financial concepts, such as interest, inflation and risk diversification. Men did not do very well, but women scored even lower.

And the gap was greater when we looked at older Canadians. Among those 55 to 64 years of age, men were twice as likely as women to answer the same questions correctly. The survey also showed that women were less confident about their ability to manage their finances. We know confidence is key to improving financial literacy.

So what can we do to strengthen the financial wellbeing of Canadian women?

As Canada’s Financial Literacy Leader, my role is to strengthen the financial literacy of all Canadians, including women. This includes helping direct people to resources so they gain the knowledge, skills and confidence to make sound financial decisions.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada provides free, easy-to-use tools and calculators. You’ll also find educational content and programs, including information on choosing a financial advisor, as well as questions to ask when seeking professional help to manage your money. There’s also an online quiz, based on the Canadian Financial Capability Survey, to test your own financial literacy level and see how you compare to other Canadians. After you take the quiz, you can check out the Canadian Financial Literacy Database which features more than 1,300 resources and events to help you budget, manage debt and save.  

The website also has information about how to protect against fraud, and there are resources to help prepare different life events, including planning for retirement and dealing with finances after a separation or divorce.

Learn more about money matters by going to Canada.ca/Money.

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