May 10, 2013
Are the 70 percent of the developing world's adult population with no formal bank account doomed to a life of economic uncertainty and financial illiteracy? If a woman's culture dictates that she should always put her family's financial needs ahead of her own, can she learn to set aside money for her own retirement without feeling guilty?
These are just some of the complex issues raised at the seventh annual Financial Literacy and Education Summit hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Visa Inc. Renowned U.S. and international financial experts and journalists led a lively discussion – and fielded Twitter questions from roughly 2,000 participants – around the theme, "Improving Women's Financial Literacy & Capabilities Globally."
Details of the discussion included:
On the question of whether financial literacy hinges on access to traditional bank accounts, Egyptian Journalist Amira Salah-Ahmend said roughly 90 percent of the Egyptian population is unbanked, meaning most of their transactions are unregulated and therefore more risky.
Mexican Journalist Adina Chelminsky added that many third-world people have much easier access to credit through informal lending channels than to bank products. "The idea is not to formalize all this informal lending, but rather for banks and governments to think outside the box and develop new products that cater to women who have minimal savings," she said.
The panelists shared some alternative financing methods that are already in place and thriving:
Bottom line: Women throughout the world face unique economic and financial literacy challenges. The key is for governments, financial institutions, educators and entrepreneurs to work together to devise financial tools and educational materials that can reach the female half of the world's population – the younger, the better.
To watch a free webcast of the 2013 Financial Literacy and Education Summit and reactions from panelists, visit www.practicalmoneyskills.com.
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