Did you know that the Philippines is considered the most gender equal country in Asia?
According to the Global Gender Gap Index 2020 published by the World Economic Forum, the Philippines ranked 16th worldwide and beat all its Asian neighbors by quite a mile. The next Asian countries to make the list are Lao and Singapore, and they trailed at the 43rd and 54th spot.
What’s so great about this index? For 14 years now, the WEF index has been measuring the extent of gender-based gaps across four key categories: (1) economic participation and opportunity; (2) educational attainment; (3) health and survival; and (4) political empowerment. Thanks to the annual reports, we can track progress towards closing these gaps over time in more than 150 countries. But also due to these reports, we are faced with the sobering reality that it will take at least a century for us to see gender equality to happen.
The WEF Global Gender Gap Index website headlined: “None of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes, and nor likely will many of our children. Gender parity will not be attained for 99.5 years.” For a mother with two young daughters and a handful of nieces, this is truly depressing and not exactly the way I wanted to celebrate International Women’s Day (March 8) and National Women’s Month (March).
Does this mean we now all just watch in the sidelines for the next 100 years? I don’t plan to. Each of us can do what we can to close the gaps across the four categories, from the way we empower our children, our extended families, our friends, our work colleagues, even our larger communities.
Let me start here with economic participation and opportunity. As women, we need to own our financial future. Do not mistake that having a man in your life equates to a financial plan. He is just a man, maybe your father or your husband or your significant other or brother, but he cannot be considered as master of your financial destiny.
There are wives who are content to let their husbands handle their money. He’s the one working and provides for all their needs, and even their ‘wants’ too. She has no source of income, no personal bank account, no asset solely to her name, and her credit card is also an extension of her husband’s.
Some would probably envy their situation, and while it’s a good one, what’s better is for them to start owning their money. The future is not set and anything can happen. When the unexpected hits, an accident, death, divorce, these are hard enough and when you throw in money problems too, even the strongest person can go under.
The announced theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #EachforEqual but I am drawn to one of the campaigns launched by a fashion brand: #YouCan. No matter who you are, a stay at home mom or a corporate executive, a baker or a scientist, middle-income worker or high net-worth individual, there will always be moments of self-doubt. When it hits, just remember #YouCan.
For more money inspiration, we asked women CEOs of asset management firms who altogether handle hundreds of billions of corporate and consumer investible assets. Valerie Pama is President of Sun Life Asset Management Company, and also serves as President of the Philippine Investment Funds Association. Karen Liza Roa is President of First Metro Asset Management and Arleen Guevara is the Chief Investment Officer of Philam Life. They share the best and worst money advice they’ve been given to start you on the road of #YouCan.
What’s the best money advice you've received as a woman? And given to other women?
Roa: Keep something for yourself and make sure to spend and invest in yourself as well. Never get into anything you truly don’t understand. Don’t get swayed by glib talkers and sexy sounding investments. Keep it simple. I always believe that if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t true! Lastly, always keep something for a rainy day. Surely, there will be many of those days.
Women have the ability to multi-task yet have a keen eye for detail, this allows us to have a broad perspective of the things around us yet, let’s us delve into details. So I think that makes us good money managers. I think women tend to be more conservative and risk averse. While this can lead to more prudence, if taken to an extreme it can be unprogressive which is negative and shouldn’t be.
Pama: A lot of my early money advice I received at home from my mom. She taught me about managing my school allowance, and saving extra money. At an early age, I guess the best advice she gave me was to never run out of money – to always have something extra even if I don’t need it so that I’m prepared in cases of emergency. Sometimes, she gave me money just to keep in case of emergencies. At that age, I hardly had any emergencies, but there were times I had to buy something for school and even if my mom wasn’t with me, I was able to buy it because of the emergency money. So I guess, unconsciously, I was learning about always having an emergency fund.
I also learned a lot from observing my grandmother as she managed her various businesses. She would bring me on her shopping trips abroad as she bought inventory and discussed her computations on how she would make money from the purchases or use them for the businesses.
Guevara: It pays to go for delayed gratification. Also, try to be as financially independent as you can. Married women should have their own kitty.
How about the worst money advice you've received?
Roa: Anything that promotes or encourages a lifestyle that you cannot afford, stay away!
Pama: I guess the worst advice is what we get from credit card companies with the zero interest installment schemes, especially for purchasing wants and not needs. One can think that you are saving on interest and not realizing that you may be spending beyond your monthly budget because the expense is spread over many months.
Guevara: Buy high, sell low. I don’t think anybody would ever give this kind of advice, but it does happen sometimes, so we’ll all just have to avoid falling into this trap.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.