How financial literacy impacts youth prostitution, AIDS, and women’s survival

Judith Bruce: Financial literacy is kind of
bedrock to any long-term change pretty much for everybody, but certainly for females. The world spends a lot of time talking about
the SDGs—these are the sustainable development goals, mention all sorts of goals—health,
equality, participation—that cannot be realized unless you have some authority over resources. You can know a right, but if you don’t have
a way of getting that right or a bargaining position then it’s just an idea. For girls they begin to see themselves as
just an extended part of other people, they begin to define themselves as doing household
and “domestic activities”. They don’t see themselves for what they
are, which is vital economic actors. So the first thing financial literacy does
is it says you’re an economic actor, you’re making economic choices every single day with
the way you use your time, the way you use scarce resources;much of the work that you
do makes it possible for someone else to do some other work. So just an identification. Financial literacy also means building specific
capabilities, being able to analyze situations, risk situations, and opportunity situations. For example, when you’re working with a
population which has never thought of themselves as being economic contributors, if you ask
the question “Well imagine that you’re a girl of 12 in domestic service, what are
the times that you are in the riskiest position?” And then people will say, “Well when you
asked for your salary, because if they don’t give it to you you have no recourse you’re
on the street.” If you ask, for a young married girl, “How
is it she’s going to choose a number and timing for children?” Well, she’s not. She’s not unless she has some bargaining
position with her partner. If the partner has complete control over her
(sexually) and her fertility she has no way of saying “I don’t want to have a child
now” or “I want to wait,” so her being able to control some resources and not feel
completely dependent. What happens often is that young women, females,
are working and they’re earning but they are not – they’re trying to save but they’re
turning over almost all of what they make and their time to other people. So financial literacy makes them aware of
the fact that they are, daily, supporting not only themselves but others. It also teaches real world financial inclusion
skills. What are different kinds of savings? What different kinds of savings do you need
to have? You need to have emergency savings, because
particularly for the poorest if you don’t have some money aside for an emergency then
a young female in particular is at immediate high sexual risk, or she may need emergency
savings to help another family member. Then there are longer-term savings, which
are goal oriented, for example, saving up towards education. We have in our work something called the cash
flow tool, and I remember in Haiti after the earthquake we became aware that there was
a catastrophic level of sexual violence against the girls, and most of these households were
run by beleaguered women, lean-to’s—it was a desperate situation. The programs that did exist were called “child-friendly
spaces,” which lump boys and girls together, and ultimately in most cases had older boys
only and were unsafe places for girls. The bathrooms were put in places that the
girls couldn’t get to safely, and there was a kind of – they were like war zones. So in July after the earthquake we had a workshop
in Haiti and we started talking about: at what age did a girl in Haiti need to really
understand not only her safety, but how to resource for herself safely? And we had previously put the age at eight,
and we had a 12-year-old there, and she said “No, no, it’s six. It’s at six girls need to know this information.” In that setting, and we often brought out
something called the cash flow tool. So we asked people to draw pictures of several
different types of girls by age and by education, and then we asked them now list the places
from which such girls get money. And girls do get money from little chores,
they get money they’re sometimes given, and they’re very good savers, so that’s
on one side. And then on the other side there’s a listing
of “And what does this girl need to spend on?” And they make that list as well. And then we say “Alright, so what’s the
most important source for the money?” And then they circle that. “And what’s the most important item on
their budget that takes the most money?” And they circle that. And then people begin to see that there is
an imbalance, sometimes they’re actually taking more money in than they need to spend,
so we always say “Well what you can save is the difference between what you want and
what you need.” So it’s a process of becoming very conscious,
not only of your contributions but how you can manage often in scarcity. I think it’s valuable for anybody. When my children were growing up I couldn’t
find a financial literacy course. There is a great book that Susan Orman wrote
called “Young, Broke and Fabulous” and I thought it was terrific because it would
take real scenarios that you actually faced; you have very little money but you really
need a car. What are your real choices? And that’s another thing that financial
literacy does, it lays out reality-based scenarios. It doesn’t talk to you as if you’re middle-aged
and are making a big salary and buying your first house, it outlines real scenarios of
economic risk and need. And then it says, “How would you negotiate
it?” If you’re a young poor female what you have
to do is very different than if you’re an older male. Most of the prescriptions for the older and
better-off populations will have no place with these girls. Then you have a real conversation with the
girls. So what will it really take for you to get
school supplies this year? What will it really take for the rent to be
paid without someone——story from Kenya, introducing very simple budgeting. One of the girls we were working with came
back and said to her mentor, “This was the first year basically I didn’t have to go
out and sleep with my boyfriend without a condom, because we had enough money to cover
the rent in November, which was just before school fees were due.” That’s how close the margins are, but you
have to get down to that level of reality. And one more thing I want to say, when you
have a sense of control for one part of your life, it extrapolates to another. So for example in South Africa one of my colleagues
did wonderful research, Kelly Holman and her associates, and they introduced in a school
setting in South Africa, which was also in the highest HIV zone where, again, much higher
rates of HIV infection among females than males, and thought the financial literacy
would be core, not just because people need livelihoods but because it would make information,
for instance, about HIV much more salient. At the beginning of the program the girls,
it was girls and boys, they were separated for some sessions and together for others,
were asked “Do you think of yourself as being at any exceptional risk for HIV?” And these were girls often 15 with a partner
who was 25 years old in a zone with 25 percent HIV prevalence. And they would say no! Have you been HIV tested? No. After several months of financial literacy
their incomes hadn’t changed, their savings hadn’t changed, but their idea that there
was some aspect of their life economically that they could changes, so they were asked
“Do you have a financial goal?” And that didn’t mean you had achieved it,
but you had a goal. The girls just having a financial goal changed
their ability to realistically assess their HIV risk, if they had a partner ten years
older they thought, “Maybe I should get a different partner.” They were much more likely to get tested. They saw a scope, that information of just
psychological control and recognition immediately translated into being able to mobilize health
information. So where good health is always valued, health
doesn’t drive economics as strongly as economics drive health. Without economic resources it’s difficult
for females especially to make good health decisions.

16 thoughts on “How financial literacy impacts youth prostitution, AIDS, and women’s survival

  1. OMG absolutely crazy, 6 year olds? Family is the most important protection a father and a mother educating and protecting their family. Women’s most valuable resource is the ability to bear children. Feminists have destroyed that value by saying screw who ever you want, you don’t need a man, you don’t need religion. Women should be picky in who they choose . Happiness is inversely related to the number of sexual partners a person has. Just think about monogamy no std’s no hiv.

  2. This talk was very insightful!! It's very interesting to learn that there is such a direct connection between financial education and independence. It also makes you understand why so many terrorist groups and in general societies try to strip away women's rights to education, because it gives women that independence and ability to have a say in their lives

  3. here if parents actually controlled school curriculum then our children would come out of school as financial geniuses a hundred years ago..
    in california and new york public schools and harvard and columbia the students come out of school just being geniuses about marxist religious doctrines and hatred of white men.
    i bet my life savings of $126.76 that the private jewish schools teach finance to their jewish students though.

  4. This woman is batshit insane, shes talking in circles, making absurd claims, using 3rd world to push changes in the 1st world.
    1. Women need an education for their social and political independance.
    2. Women should have finacial independance (ESPECIALLY) from the ages 16-25 (pre-motherhood)
    3. Women should not subject themselves to feminism, you can be an advocate for equality without being batshit insane.
    4. Women should be educated in how to choose good partners.
    5. Women are not subject to aids and prostitution because of financial literacy issue, its because they're degenerates.
    Im an advocate for more traditional gender roles, but even if you want to be a free liberal woman and regularly date different men, go at it, have your fun, but if you're not willing to further your personal goals, especially those of education, employment or a family unit, dont cry foul when you end up 30, single, unemployed and uneducated.

  5. Two SCIENTIFIC FRAUDS*. of our time *HIV and Climate Change (the Geoengineering elephant in the room) that people need to compare to see the religiosity and zeal with which dissenters are concertedly ignored and vilified.

    Joan Shenton on HIV AIDS

    Janine Roberts on the clear scientific fraud perpetrated by Dr. Gallo in his original papers

    Author of
    Fear of the Invisible

  6. If a young attractive woman was free to be a prostitute, or stripper and invested her earnings within a free market she could easily outearn average men. Prostitution and construction work are both selling your body in a non-enjoyable way and are equally immoral and should both be legal.

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