MAP Insights


We often assume that women, like men, are fully equipped and have the financial savvy to plan their personal and business finances. However, various studies have observed the reality that there is a gender gap in financial literacy that persists globally, and which poses challenges affecting women’s personal and professional development, including investment and retirement planning.

An Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Survey in 2020 showed that men possess higher financial literacy and economic investment levels compared to women, impeding women’s ability to achieve financial autonomy and independence. With women’s longer average life expectancy of 73.8 years versus 68.4 years for men according to the study conducted in 2021 by Saloni Dattani and Lucas Rodés-Guirao of our World in Data, it is imperative for women to be more proactive in financial planning and investment strategies for retirement savings, living expenses, healthcare costs, and other potential long-term care needs.

At this year’s Global Summit of Women (GSW), an annual event that brings together influential women leaders, entrepreneurs, and experts from around the world, which was held in Madrid from May 9 to 11, I had the privilege of moderating a panel entitled “Financial Strategies and Investment Planning for Women.” The panel discussed the various challenges that women experience in planning their financial future and provided insightful interventions and strategies to improve the financial well-being of women.

Ana Lorrabaquio — a veteran in financial markets and a director in the Institutional, Wealth and Corporate Business at Principal Mexico, one of the most active and fastest growing finance companies in the Mexican financial market operating through the businesses of retirement fund, investment funds, annuities, and insurance — presented her insights on personal financial planning and the economic role of women. She discussed the importance of financial planning in creating a greater sense of well-being, despite the current challenges faced by women, such as earning less than men as a result of the persistent gender pay gap and the difficulties in understanding investment information. Ms. Lorrabaquio encouraged women to be proactive by reviewing their financial situation, investing wisely, and planning for retirement. She also advised that women should seek the assistance of a financial advisor to guide them achieve financial success.

Alicia Muñoz Lombardia, Deputy Secretary of the Board and Head of Legal and Public Affairs at Santander Spain, currently the largest bank in Spain in terms of assets and global presence, discussed the barriers faced by women in accessing capital which has discouraged many women from becoming entrepreneurs. However, she added that women should be aware of funding options, such as government programs, bank loans, crowdfunding, and angel investors. Ms. Lombardia further emphasized the importance of financial education and entrepreneurial opportunities for women. Thus, her organization has invested significantly in collaborating with universities to support women entrepreneurs through financial education, mentoring, and other resources.

Mary McKenna, an angel investor and co-founder of Awaken Hub, a platform supporting women-led businesses in technology sectors, shed light on the low investment in women-led companies in deep tech innovation. Ms. McKenna stressed the importance of women’s active involvement in early-stage investing and highlighted the benefits of joining or starting an angel syndicate, which provides access to due diligence teams, community events, and personal development opportunities. Angel investing is an investment option available to women aside from the traditional instruments, like equities, bonds, and other forms of securities.

The panelists likewise discussed financial management and investment strategies for women, such as the need to balance and establish clear boundaries, especially in family-owned businesses, between personal and business finances as women entrepreneurs are expected to also manage household finances as “keepers of the funds or finance managers,” and the need to promote women’s access to capital for business, such as in the technology sectors, to support gender equality in finance. Finally, due to cultural and societal norms which influence women’s attitudes towards financial management and investment, they all agree on the need to address these socio-cultural influences to foster greater financial empowerment among women through collective actionable steps and initiatives to ensure sustained progress towards greater financial literacy and empowerment for women.

The Philippine Women’s Economic Network (PhilWEN), through its inaugural project with the Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (PBCWE), comprised to date of 45 large and influential local corporations who commit to promote gender equality in the workplace, recognizes the urgent need to address this gender gap in financial literacy.

To train and empower women to navigate their financial journey with confidence, PhilWEN, in partnership with Insular Life, a member of PBCWE, conducts training using modules on “Financial Literacy 101: Shaping Her Future – The Sheroes’ Runway to Financial Freedom,” “Investment Planning,” and “Estate Planning.” Using these modules, we capacitate women with practical knowledge and financial skills, thus paving the way towards a more equitable and financially literate society.

The global dialogue on women’s economic empowerment to inspire positive change in the financial landscape for women is necessary to create a more inclusive and equitable financial platform for women in the Philippines and beyond.

The gender gap in financial literacy is not just a matter of numbers and statistics; it is about the lives and futures of women everywhere. If we do not act now, we are missing out on empowering countless women and depriving them of the opportunity to achieve financial independence, security, and a better future for themselves and their families; we are denying them the knowledge and skills they need to navigate the complex world of personal finance, make informed decisions, and plan for retirement. This will continuously perpetuate the current system that holds women back, limits their access to investment opportunities, and reinforces the harmful notion that financial management is not their domain.

It is high time to face the issue, recognize the dreams and aspirations of women, and ensure that they have the tools and support they need to thrive financially.

This article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines or MAP.


Ma. Aurora “Boots” D. Geotina-Garcia is a member of the MAP Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee. She is the founding chair of PhilWEN and chair of the Governing Council of the PBCWE. She is also president of Mageo Consulting, Inc., a company providing corporate finance advisory services.