A tree that doesn’t put down solid roots is always in danger of toppling.
So it is with women-centred CED. If we do not build understanding and capability into the very bones of the community, we fail to strengthen the roots of the system.
That’s why education and training are so important. If we educate communities and allow them to keep and spread that knowledge, we have strengthened the community as a result.
That’s why we began work on our Economic Literacy project: we are interested in ensuring that the roots of the system remain strong, that women continue to strive toward economic security, and can do so without any barriers.
What is Economic Literacy?
Our society is complex, especially when it comes to financial matters. There is a reason so many people need help with their taxes, especially at first: it’s no easy business. For new Canadians or other groups, it can create entirely artificial barriers to their financial stability.
When we talk about economic literacy, we mean a knowledge of how our financial system works and how to successfully utilize it. Someone who cashes a cheque at a bank is using their economic literacy. Other forms include:
- Measuring personal financial health
- Understanding credit
- Building the local economy
And, like all forms of literacy, it is something that can be trained.
Our Economic Literacy project was designed to help with that training. As with the Cluster Project, we wanted to help organizations that did this work do it more effectively. For us, that meant first finding what worked.
We worked with community leaders all over Canada to develop a good picture of what works when it comes to increasing economic literacy. We wanted to take the best from all over Canada, and allow that knowledge and those resources to be shared throughout this sector.
The next phase was to help pass those best practices and resources to the rest of Canada. We developed a Train-the-Trainer program that we made available to over 60 staff from 21 community-based organizations across Canada.
The goal was to give these organizations the tools they needed to be effective.
The Impact We Made
The project was a success. By 2013, over 800 women and their families had benefitted from training in economic literacy. The value of this is great. These women are now more likely to maintain economic stability.
With decreased financial dependence and increased economic power, these women will help to form the strong roots of our economy, truly benefitting everyone.