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Sep 02, 2015

Top 3 Money Challenges of Women (Empowering Women, Part 1 of 2 parts)


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In the past few days I’ve been thinking about the position of women in our society. I attended a symposium entitled Brand ASEAN Women (part of the Invest ASEAN 2015 conducted by Maybank ATR Kim Eng last week at the Makati Shangri-la). It was an interesting exchange of ideas by influential women Emily Abrera (former CEO of McCann Erickson Phis.), Jeannie Javelosa (co-founder of ECHOStore Sustainable Lifestyle), Josephine Gotianun Yap (CEO of Filinvest Land) moderated by Malou Mangahas (co-founder of Phil. Center for Investigative Journalism). I enjoyed listening to this session because they’re not the “bra-burning feminists” but they seem to have good relationships with their husbands and they know how to make use of their feminine characteristics to work their way up – my kind of feminist!

Moreover, I have been preparing for a talk this week where I will tackle how business owners can help their predominantly women factory workers achieve financial freedom as part of their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). So I went through my pieces on several women topics (both published and in draft forms). Here are a few thoughts on the topic that I wish to share with you today.

Filipinas are better off compared to their counterparts in other countries. 

Believe it or not Pinays are better off. We have Princesa Urduja, the legendary warrior princess of Pangasinan. Although some modern research have indicated that her story may be pure fiction, it cannot be denied that a story like this passed on from generation to generation has helped shape our culture to be being a matriarchal. Women can lead! In recent history we already have two female presidents – Pres. Cory and GMA, while the world’s most powerful country has yet to break this gender barrier as Hillary Clinton tries for the second time to become the first female president of the US.

Back in the ‘90s as an investment banker, there were still more males in my place of work but I never felt discrimination against my gender. There was only one time I experienced it but it was more to protect me. In our department, our president was sending us abroad for one-week training one by one. When it was my turn, the available training was in South Korea and he told me that he was thinking of sending my male colleague instead of me because according to him women were not treated as equals in our field there. But he came up with a promise to send me to another country. Fast forward to 2012 when my family went to South Korea for a vacation and our tour guide made a comment that confirmed what my former boss said.

Somehow, women in the Philippines have more opportunities to pursue their career because of the support system we have for mothers – either from family or hired help. In school, we also see how girls perform at par, if not better, than their male counterparts because traditional schools are more conducive to the temperament of girls compared to the more active boys.

Not so in the lower segments of society

Looking closely, gender equality may be present in the higher income brackets of our society, but it is not always the case in the lower brackets where we still see inequality and some abuse. The homemakers of many poor families are given the task to care for the children, giving up their previous jobs, and still left with the challenge to budget the measly income brought home by their husbands, who in a lot of cases suffer from machismo problem and take it out on their wives. (In our ASEAN neighbor Thailand there was a study that showed violence on women shooting up on paydays because fights occur when the husbands come home drunk with take home pay lower than expected because of the drinking sprees. And this story seems to ring a resounding bell in our country. (Read Financial Literacy for Women at Risk)

Empower the women economically and good things will follow.

During the symposium last week, this was my takeaway. When we empower our abused female kababayans economically, other good things happen:

1. They will stop putting up with marital abuse.

2. They are able to raise their children better.

3. They are able to take care of themselves better (as you know the stereotype woman, especially the mother, takes care of herself last).

4. They are able to go for their personal dreams and move towards personal development. (In a study I read years ago in the midst of the heated RH Bill debate, they found out that women across social brackets had the same number of children in mind prior to getting married; however, once married, the educated ones get to fulfill their dream number of children while the lower income women end up having more.)

An integral part of this economic empowerment is Financial Literacy. And this is what I will talk about on Wednesday at the ANZ BSR talk in Makati.

Let’s start with the Top 3 Money Challenges of Women:

  1. Women are paid less in general. Why? Not because they are less competent but because of several reasons. Women are not as good as their male counterparts in negotiating their salaries. It has a lot to do with social norms. A strong-willed go-gether female is not perceived very positively, even by fellow women. Employers are more willing to give a higher pay to a male employee because they know that he would be absent for a fewer number of days when a baby comes, gets sick, or would need parents in school activities. Moreover, the employer will not be as guilty in asking the male employee to work overtime. And of course, the employer would take into consideration that most of the time the male employee is the main breadwinner in the family. So it’s not all ill-intentioned but more of a confluence of societal factors. (Note: There are two industries that pay women more in general – modeling and showbiz.)
  2. Women have shorter earning periods due to career interruptions. As predicted by the employer, a female employee will take a maternity leave (if she decides to have a child). When a child gets sick or has a weekday school activity, who is the default parent to take a leave? The mom! When the time comes when a couple decides to have at least one full-time parent, who’s the more likely choice? The mother. I’m a living case of this situation. I am not complaining because on my part, it was a well thought out and willful decision, no regrets whatsoever because my husband has been very supportive and never in my non-earning days did he make me feel that his salary was his alone; otherwise, I would have been a housewife for just one month! But that’s another article altogether. Anyway, this second challenge highlights the fact that the wife is the one who usually drops out of her career.
  3. Women live longer than men. After earning less, being gainfully employed for a shorter period of time, women end up living longer lives; hence, needing more money to live on!

Given the above challenges, there is a grave need for women to be good with money, for women to have high FQ. I will discuss what we can do both in our own capacities and what structural changes are needed in the second part of this series on empowering women.

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ANNOUNCEMENTS

  1. The Family FQ Workshop by the Faustos goes to Iriga City on September 6, 2015! This is being arranged by Beam and Go, an online platform that caters to OFWs and others who support their families in an affordable and transparent way.

Fausto Workshop Backdrop

  1. I will be speaking at the ANZ BSR for their Corporate Sustainability Workshop on September 2, 2015 at the Baron’s Bar, Tower Club 33rd fl, Philamlife Tower, 8767 Paseo de Roxas Makati at 9 am. I will talk about financially empowering women before employers of factories with predominantly women workers.
  2. Thank you to Maiqui Pineda of Maybank ATR Kim Eng for inviting us to the InvestAsia 2015 held at the Makati Shangri-la on August 25, 2015.

Rose Fres Fausto is the author of bestselling books Raising Pinoy Boys and The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon. Her new book is the Filipino version of the latter entitled Ang Muling Pagsasalaysay ng Ang Pinakamayamang Tao sa Babilonya. Click this link to read samples of the books. Books of FQ Mom Rose Fres Fausto. She is also the grand prize winner of the first Sinag Financial Literacy Digital Journalism Awards.

Attribution: Images from clipart.com and thevoicebw.com modified by the author to help deliver the message of the article.

This article is also published in PhilStar.com and FQMom.com.

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