Why greater financial literacy could save women's lives

It's an awful fact that half a million Australian women are assaulted every 12 months and more than 100 killed. What's worse is that in the majority of these assaults and homicides, the victim knew her attacker; often they were a spouse.

Whenever a domestic violence case like this hits the headlines it’s often asked “why didn't she leave?”.

There are a lot of reasons why women stay in dangerous situations, but one of them is that they lack the confidence to look after themselves and their children. That lack of self-confidence often comes down to money, as almost a third of Australian homes live pay check to pay check. It’s difficult to think about uprooting yourself and your family if you are financially dependent on someone else.

Knowing that they're able to look after themselves and those they care about is critical in giving women the confidence to leave a dangerous situation, yet at the moment only 47 per cent of Australian women surveyed said they would be confident discussing money.

This needs to change. Financial literacy is a core set of skills that is important for everyone in society to understand. By wisely managing, saving and investing money, a household can go from living pay check to pay check to having money left over at the end of the month.

What's more, it can take a woman from feeling dependent on an abusive spouse to feeling confident in their ability to survive without them.

The way forward

At present there's a huge desire among Australian women to learn more about financial literacy, with 92 per cent of Australian women surveyed saying they wanted to improve their financial planning skills. Financial literacy creates a positive cycle, with 54 per cent of women saying that being more knowledgeable about their options would motivate them to become more engaged about their finances within the next 12 months.

Empowering women with financial literacy skills is something that needs our attention. We need to ensure that not only we learn but also our mothers, sisters, daughters, nieces and girlfriends learn these skills too.

There are plenty of resources available and it doesn't take much to get started. So let's make this International Women's Day a day to start women down the path of financial independence.

Lea xo