Miranda Barham: Financial Education for Girls: Breaking Cycles of Poverty

Image: Plan International

By Miranda Barham, WAM Steering Committee

On September 13, 2017, we will be holding an event with guest speakers Eva Halper from Credit Suisse Global Education Initiative and Aukje te Kaat from Aflatoun International to discuss the Credit Suisse initiative around financial education for girls. In addition, two Plan International managers from China and Brazil who are directly implementing the program will also be present.

We asked them to give us an introductory overview ahead of the event to tell us a little about their initiative and what they hope to achieve.

  1. Please tell us a bit about the background of the Credit Suisse initiative ‘Financial Education for Girls’?

In 2014 Credit Suisse launched a Signature Programme focusing on Financial Education for Girls. This programme is part of the bank’s Global Education Initiative, one of the 2 global initiatives Credit Suisse launched in 2008.  Aligned with the core business of Credit Suisse and the other  global initiative in Microfinance (Microfinance Capacity Building Initiative), the Financial Education for Girls programme aims to improve the financial education and life skills of approximately 100,000 adolescent girls and to encourage them to transition through secondary school.

As a global financial institution, we see first-hand how important financial skills are to enable people to actively participate in the economy and society. Many young people aged 14–25 in developing countries are already economically active but without a basic education in the key tenets of finance. They are therefore not only less likely to maximise the benefits from their economic activity, but also risk making decisions that may result in debt and further poverty over time and into adulthood.

Given that girls in developing countries still struggle to overcome many barriers to education compared to their male counterparts, focussing on financial education for girls in particular can mean transformed futures. Empowered girls can manage their own savings, spending, and make decisions about their future endeavours in life.  

By increasing both the financial capability of girls as well as their awareness of their social and economic rights, they can better fulfill their potential and take advantage of economic opportunities as they transition into adulthood. Furthermore, financial education for girls also mitigates their vulnerabilities such as sexual and domestic violence, school dropout, illiteracy, early marriage, and pregnancy.

  1. Where is the programme run and what are its objectives?

The programmeme is being implemented by our partners, Plan International and Aflatoun International in Brazil, China, India and Rwanda. As of this year, we will be also working in Tanzania and Sri Lanka with another of our long standing partners, Room to Read.

Financial Education for Girls aims to:

  • Improve the financial education and life skills of approximately 100,000 adolescent girls

  • Support approximately 100,000 girls to transition to, or remain in, secondary school  

  • Advocate at local and national levels to create a positive environment for girls’ education

  1. Tell us about how you hope your work will inspire future programmes?

In addition to meeting the goals outlined above, the partners are investing time and resources into pursuing a thought leadership agenda in the area of financial education for adolescent girls. The aim is to make recommendations for development practitioners and national policy makers. We hope our findings will inform the creation of new programmemes by indicating critical success factors needed for programmemes targeting girls’ Financial Education. We also aim to identify gaps in current understanding of similar programmes and therefore where further research would be of value.

The thought leadership component of the partnership is a research project to explore the impact of financial education on adolescent girls and to contribute to the debate more broadly around financial education – specifically for girls.

Through this research we hope to:

  • Increase understanding of how financial and life skills education programmes can be used to improve the life chances and selected educational outcomes of adolescent girls

  • Make recommendations to improve the quality of financial and life skills programming for adolescent girls

  • Develop a body of evidence and insights which will inform the design of innovative and integrated financial education and life skills programmes for girls

We do hope that you will be able to join us to discuss the initiative further and hear more about how the partners have planned and implemented the programme and what sorts of results are apparent at this initial stage.

You may book your ticket here.

When: Wednesday 13th September 2017, 18:30 – 21:30 BST

Where: Credit Suisse, 1 Cabot Square, London E14 4QJ

Networking from 18:30; talk begins 19:30

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