Launch of Global Money Week, 22 March 2021


Remarks by Angel Gurría,

Secretary-General, OECD

Paris, 22 March 2021

Your Majesty, dear colleagues and friends, and all the young people around the world who are watching,

I am delighted to launch the 2021 Global Money Week, and honoured to be joined by Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands. Queen Maxima is a global champion of financial inclusion and literacy, who serves as both the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development and Honorary Patron of the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion, which the OECD is proud to support. I also had the honour of launching the PISA 2012 and 2015 financial literacy results with Her Majesty.

The OECD’s Interim Economic Outlook, released earlier this month, had a hopeful message -- a strong global economic recovery is in sight -- but it also underlined that the pandemic is increasing social inequalities and worsening the situation for many vulnerable groups.

Young people are among those who are suffering the most from the crisis. Their access to education, job prospects, and ability to thrive socially have all been badly hit. All this is also limiting their opportunities to build a secure financial future.

The theme of Global Money Week’ this year, “Take care of yourself, take care of your money”, stresses the importance of building financial resilience to cope not with the current crisis but also with future ones, thereby supporting financial well-being. Young people need to be given the instruments and opportunities to build a better, more inclusive and more sustainable future, for themselves and for the societies they live in. Financial literacy is one of those instruments, together with adequate financial inclusion and financial consumer protection frameworks.

Yet young people are not always equipped with the financial skills they need. The PISA 2018 financial literacy assessment showed that far too many students ─ around one in six on average across participating OECD countries and economies ─ fail to attain a baseline level of proficiency, even in some high- and middle-performing countries. So while 54% of 15-year-old students have a bank account, and almost 40% have made a payment with a mobile phone, many cannot recognise the value of a simple budget, let alone understand a bank statement or a pay slip.

The PISA assessments also highlighted gender differences, especially in attitudes and opportunities to learn by doing. On average, boys were 12 percentage points more likely than girls to enjoy talking about money matters, and they were also more likely than girls to have used digital financial services. We need to pay attention to such aspects to avoid gender differences in financial outcomes into adulthood.

The results for inclusiveness are also alarming. Students from a disadvantaged socio-economic background score significantly lower in financial literacy than advantaged students. The OECD’s contribution to the 2020 G20 presidency on Advancing the Digital Financial Inclusion of Youth also stressed the limited financial literacy and inclusion of disadvantaged young people.

And as with financial literacy, there is also a gender dimension to problems of financial inclusion. For example, while more and more women are opening bank accounts, there is still a 7% global gender gap, meaning that 1 billion women are financially excluded.

Moreover, gender gaps in financial literacy and inclusion are mutually reinforcing, limiting the development of female entrepreneurship and access to finance by women entrepreneurs. The situation is particularly serious in developing countries, which is why I welcome her Majesty’s engagement in the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi).

The OECD has for many years promoted financial literacy for all, and especially for young people. The OECD Recommendation on Financial literacy, adopted in October 2020 at the OECD’s Ministerial Council Meeting, encourages governments to take measures to develop financial literacy from the earliest possible age. More than 75 countries around the world are currently developing or implementing national strategies for financial education, to ensure efficient coordination of financial literacy initiatives for all target audiences, and especially for young people. Yet more remains to be done, and Global Money Week has an important role to play in this.

Global Money Week, which the OECD is organising for the first time this year, brings together stakeholders from the public, private and not-for profit sectors, with the goal of improving the financial literacy of children and youth. The global importance of this topic is reflected in the participation of more than 100 countries in Global Money Week this year, despite the restrictions to almost exclusively virtual activities. Global Money Week is not just a week; it catalyses efforts that last for years and sometimes decades.

Your Majesty, dear friends, young people everywhere,

Basic financial literacy can make a crucial difference in the opportunities and life prospects of young people. It is a foundation stone for lifelong well-being, and for a more inclusive economy. It also has a key role to play in building back better from the current crisis. Or rather, as I like to say, building forward better. The OECD remains committed to advancing financial literacy for all and supporting you in your efforts.

I would now like to invite Her Majesty Queen Maxima to share with us her insights.

Thank you.


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