Financial Exclusion and Gender Inequity Among Low-Income Women in Canada

Paper written by Carly Kublick.

Efforts in recent decades to advance gender equality have succeeded in increasing women’s economic participation. There are still many barriers, however, experienced by low-income women that prevent them from achieving their own definitions of financial well-being. Barriers such as low-skilled precarious labour and the pressures of caregiving make accruing savings difficult, placing low-income women in a vulnerable position for later in life. By using choice discourses prevalent in neoliberal schools of thought to place blame on individuals for their financial vulnerability, low-income women are further marginalized. This discourse is prevalent in financial literacy education in Canada and therefore undermines the challenges that marginalized groups face in achieving financial well-being. Because of this narrow focus, there is a gap in the literature that this paper fills.

            To highlight key issues for low-income women this paper uses evidence provided by the Canadian Financial Diaries research project (CFD). The CFD analyzed the finances of 29 low-income individuals over a one-year period, including weekly interviews with the participants and two longer interviews concerned with financial well-being (see Transcript 1). This paper will use the data from four of those participants to better understand the challenges faced by low-income women in achieving financial well-being. Emerging themes include: a high level of awareness of spending; anxiety about lack of savings; a strong desire to contribute to their communities and families; and precarious employment. Finally, to address the inequities present in an economic system that marginalizes low-income women this paper puts forward recommendations to strengthen social infrastructure through the continued funding of financial helplines.

  • For a Directed Readings course, International Development, The University of Winnipeg
  • Menno Simons College, Canadian Mennonite University

<Paper available here>

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