Financial Education: Autonomy in Women’s Lives – MPI

Financial Education: Autonomy in Women’s Lives

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In the month of March, which celebrates International Women’s Day, the importance of financial education as a fundamental tool to empower women to make more assertive choices in their lives is highlighted. This relevance is even more evident in light of statistics that reveal how financial dependence can trap women in abusive relationships.

Thiago Martello, founder of Martello EF, a company that won investors on the Shark Tank Brazil program with its exclusive methodology, emphasizes that many women, especially those from older generations, often believe they lack the skills to manage their finances.

“Fortunately, this reality is changing, but it is common to find couples where women have little knowledge about money and are unaware of even the financial transactions of the family,” explains the financial planning expert.

Martello emphasizes that by receiving financial education, women can become more independent to make assertive decisions, gaining autonomy in controlling their finances and contributing to the financial well-being of their families.

For him, it is fundamental to align the minimum necessary knowledge between men and women during financial mentoring, ensuring that both have an active voice and equally participate in the learning process for family growth as a whole.

According to the founder of Martello EF, financial education teaches essential skills such as budgeting, saving, investing, and retirement planning, which were traditionally considered predominantly masculine.

Martello highlights that financial education for women provides freedom of choice, allowing them not to remain in unwanted relationships out of fear of financial instability, and acquire skills to generate additional income or face financial crises with more resilience.

Factors Contributing to Women’s Aversion to Finance

  • Gender Stereotypes: The cultural association between finance and masculinity creates a barrier for women who wish to engage with financial matters, perpetuating the idea that this domain primarily belongs to men.
  • Lack of Financial Education: The lack of adequate exposure to financial education during women’s upbringing can result in a lack of confidence in making financial decisions. Historically, women were spared this knowledge, while men were assigned the role of provider and manager of family finances.
  • Lack of Role Models: The absence of examples of successful and financially literate women limits women’s financial aspirations and complicates their identification with this field, contributing to perpetuating the stigma that finances are a male territory.

There is no evidence of a biological predisposition of men to handle finances better than women. Studies in behavioral economics highlight that the stereotype of women not being good with numbers or being more cautious is a cultural construction, not an innate characteristic.

Psychologist Gilla Bastos highlights that many of the choices made by women are directly linked to their financial autonomy. Economist Paula Sauer adds that cultural and family inheritance plays a crucial role in this process. Women who grew up in environments where financial education was valued and encouraged tend to handle their finances better.

Paula explains that career and financial planning are relatively recent aspects for women, who began to significantly enter the workforce from the 1960s onwards. However, they face challenges such as guilt for leaving children and pressure to juggle multiple responsibilities, while men generally do not face this same family pressure.

She highlights the gender disparity in the field of economics, citing that only three women have received the Nobel Prize in Economics since its creation in 1968, showing that there is still a long way to go to achieve gender equality, especially in terms of remuneration and professional recognition.

Gilla Bastos emphasizes the importance of keeping the flame of dreams alive, reminding that women’s existence goes beyond household and maternal responsibilities. She emphasizes that, despite achievements, it is crucial to remain vigilant in the face of challenges faced by women.

In turn, Sueli observes a slight change, especially among artists and digital influencers, such as Angélica and Cláudia Raia, who address issues about the generation of women over 50, such as menopause. She believes that this more educational discourse can help other women see that it is possible to age with dignity and remain active.

Regarding public policies and actions in the private sector, Sueli highlights the lack of effective initiatives in Brazil and emphasizes that the fight for gender equality and financial autonomy of women needs to be driven by education and continuous engagement of society.

Fear of Managing Their Own Finances

For many people, the simple idea of managing their own finances can trigger anxiety and fear. This fear of money can manifest in various ways, from avoiding opening bank statements to avoiding conversations about money with friends and family. Recognizing and confronting this fear is crucial to achieving financial freedom.

The fear of dealing with one’s own finances can arise from past negative experiences with money, lack of proper financial education, and fear of the unknown. Dealing with money can seem overwhelming and stressful for many people, especially if they have faced financial difficulties before, such as debts or economic crises.

This fear can have serious consequences for a person’s financial and emotional life. Avoiding financial management can lead to bill payment delays, accumulation of debts, and difficulties in achieving long-term financial goals. Additionally, anxiety about money can negatively affect mental health, causing stress and worry.

Fortunately, there are strategies to overcome the fear of managing one’s own finances. Educating oneself about personal finances, such as budgeting and investing, is essential. This can include reading books, watching educational videos online, or seeking financial education courses. Additionally, seeking professional guidance from a financial planner can be beneficial in creating a personalized financial plan.

The Importance of Financial Autonomy

Mastering personal finances not only provides financial security but also promotes autonomy and empowerment. By taking control of their finances, you become more independent and capable of making decisions aligned with your life goals.

Facing the fear of managing one’s own finances can be challenging, but it is essential to achieve financial stability and peace of mind. By educating yourself, seeking professional guidance, and confronting your fears, you can begin to take control of your finances and work towards a healthier and more prosperous financial life.

Danielle Berry
Danielle Berry

an editor at MPI since 2023.

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