Educational NGOs Need To Also Focus On Financial Literacy Of Female Adolescents
Why is there an urgent need to include courses on financial literacy in the education curriculum of female adolescents, especially in a context like Bihar in India? In this blog post, we explore how financial literacy empowers women and also has major implications on their security and health.
Why link school education and financial literacy for female adolescents?
Firstly, let us look at the stark statistics of adolescent mothers in Bihar and what this may mean for their empowerment:
- The state of Bihar has a very high Adolescent Fertility Rate (77 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19 years) . This is undoubtedly reflective of the culture of early marriage of girls, often as soon as they graduate from high school, if not earlier.
- Numerous studies globally  have, for years now, shown the direct link between early marriage and pregnancies and intimate partner and gender- based violence .
- Added to this, is the bleak state of ‘empowerment’ of women in Bihar, where only over 4% women over the age of 15 are in the job market- the worst in India .
All of the factors above cumulatively leave the average female adolescent in Bihar, at a high risk of gender based violence, poor health and security. Therefore, we believe that a critical step towards mitigating this risk, is to ensure that female adolescents in Bihar are educated to become economically empowered, starting with being imparted basic knowledge and skills on financial literacy in their school curriculum.
Financial literacy and Women Empowerment
According to Mandell (2007) financial literacy is “The ability to evaluate new and complex financial instruments and make informed judgments in both choice of instruments and extent of use that would be in their own best long-run interests” .
At a basic, individual level, financial literacy is a necessary life skill that would empower women in cash management in their personal life and in their households. This is crucial, as it would remove total dependency on other family members and will not leave these adolescents and young women vulnerable, in case of emergencies like the risk of being trapped in domestic violence cases or sudden deaths or medical emergencies in the family . Experts have also weighed in on how financial literacy of women would lead to their financial inclusion and could subsequently turn them into empowered entrepreneurs who would participate actively in the local and national economy  .
With such shocking statistics on adolescent girls being economically and therefore, socially disadvantaged in a context like Bihar, we can see a silver lining in the potential of how financial literacy could positively transform the lives of millions of women. Thus, to start with, we believe that educational non- profits and for- profits should include courses on financial literacy, especially for adolescent girls, in a context like Bihar. As educational NGOs, even though we may be education- focused, girls would benefit from gaining indispensable life skills that would help them and empower them beyond classrooms.