x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Love is grand, but it's no substitute for security

According to a 2009 study, the financial literacy of women in the Emirates is "far from the needed level".

When it comes to her fellow women, Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz says she doesn't care how great a marriage they may have.

"I figure that knowing about personal finance is as equally as important as a couple when you're married and one of you knows how to swim," says Ms Schwab-Pomerantz, the president of the Charles Schwab Foundation, a group that helps individuals and families achieve financial well-being through education, volunteering and advocacy.

"You both have to know how to swim because if the boat goes over, you're both on your own."

In 2009, a study published by UAE researchers in the Journal of Risk Finance found that the financial literacy of investors from the Emirates is "far from the needed level". Women, in particular, had a lower level of financial literacy compared with men.

"For women, it's really about having control and options in your life," says Ms Schwab-Pomerantz. "Historically, women have been the homemakers. They don't have the money, so therefore they don't really have the independence to do what they want and for their own safety, and I think that's crucially important."

Unfortunately, experts say, the signs still aren't positive for women in the UAE.

Last month, MasterCard Worldwide released its inaugural Index of Financial Literacy, which examined basic money management skills, financial planning knowledge and an understanding of investing.

It found that within the Mena region, Egyptian women had good budgeting habits for their daily finances and kept up with bills and credit commitments. Most also set aside money for big-ticket purchases and had some of the best understanding of compound-interest rates compared with other women in the Mena region.

Overall, Egyptian women scored the highest in the Mena region, while women from the UAE came in last.

"The need to improve financial literacy among women should not be underestimated," the report said. "Although the Middle East markets scored well in general, the lower scores of Lebanon, UAE and Kuwait indicate that there is room for improvement."

nparmar@thenational.ae