Families Canada helps ensure financial literacy programs meet the needs of at-risk women, promotes education savings, and participates in national financial literacy events. Learn more about our work in this area.
What is financial literacy and why is it important?
Financial literacy refers to the knowledge, skills, confidence and motivation needed for people to keep track of their finances, make ends meet, plan ahead, keep informed and choose products and services that work for them. Financial literacy resources and workshops can help:
- families navigate transitions and major life events (e.g., having a child, going to school, divorce etc.);
- newcomers settle;
- improve social inclusion;
- boost housing stability;
- reduce stress and increase self-sufficiency;
- improve access to benefits (government program and eligibility awareness, documentation processing help); and
- provide alternatives to predatory ‘pay day loan’ type services.
Financial literacy is especially important for at-risk populations for whom every dollar counts.
Financial literacy and Gender-Based Analysis (GBA+)
Like all Canadians, at-risk women need basic financial literacy knowledge, skills and confidence to fully participate in economic life, help build a stronger economy, achieve internationally agreed upon goals for development and sustainability, and improve the quality of life for themselves, their families, and their communities.
However, research has shown that a lot of the initiatives and programs out there are not tailored for an audience who are predominantly at-risk women. This is because existing financial literacy initiatives and programs do not adequately address gender-specific barriers that prevent at-risk women from gaining core financial literacy skills, which are central to at-risk women’s economic security. As a result, many at-risk women do not have an equal opportunity to gain core financial literacy skills compared to the average Canadian.
Thus, we have moved our focus away from “pairing up” our families with pre-existing initiatives, to advocating with organizations who have initiatives to tailor them in a way that makes them accessible to our audience.
Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) is the process by which a policy, program, initiative or service can be examined for its impacts on various groups of women and men. GBA+ provides a snapshot that captures the realities of women and men affected by a particular issue at a specific time. This means that analysts, researchers, evaluators and decision makers are able to continually improve their work and attain better results for Canadian women and men by being more responsive to their specific needs and circumstances.
SAFE Women (Safety and Financial Empowerment for Women)
Trauma- and violence-informed approaches (TVIA) are policies and practices that increase the safety, control and resilience of individuals who have experienced trauma and/or violence. TVIA is used extensively in the family support and health care fields; however, it is not yet widely used in financial literacy programming and services. As a result, current efforts to increase women’s economic security may:
- unintentionally re-traumatize women who have experienced trauma and/or violence (domestic violence, financial abuse, COVID-related trauma, etc.)
- be ineffective at increasing women’s economic security
Families Canada’s “SAFE Women” project addresses the need for trauma- and violence-informed approaches (TVIA) in financial literacy programming by developing a toolkit of TVIA resources and learning opportunities for financial literacy educators.
CLICK HERE for SAFE Women resources.
Empowering Women through Financial Education
The “Empowering Women through Financial Education” program will help women living on low incomes access tailored financial literacy seminars, by bringing CIBC volunteers who have taken training on trauma- and violence-informed approaches to financial literacy education into family support centres.
National research has shown that many existing financial literacy programs are not accessible for women living on low incomes, especially women who have experienced violence or trauma. Utilizing trauma and violence-informed approaches in financial literacy programming will increase women’s sense of safety, control and resilience—as well as decrease the risk of unintentionally re-traumatizing program participants. It is through incorporating trauma and violence-informed approaches (TVIA) that financial literacy programs will become more accessible to women living on low incomes.
With CIBC’s financial support and employees’ expertise, Families Canada and CIBC will host financial literacy seminars that are trauma- and violence-informed in selected family support centres in Canada. These seminars will be hosted by CIBC volunteers and provide learning opportunities for women living on low incomes to improve their financial literacy knowledge, skills and confidence—all of which leads to achieving financial wellbeing.
Families Canada is working to help promote education savings among families who visit family support centres.
We promote sign-ups for Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) and uptake of the Canada Learning Bond (CLB) and the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG).
Families Canada is committed to working with a variety of partners to help families save for their children’s education.
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