While it’s true that women have made some great strides in the corporate world, the gender gap remains an issue in a lot of places, including financial wellness.

Research conducted by Financial Finesse, a financial education company in the US, found that the fairer sex still lags behind men in basic money management and investing, the two most important requisites for achieving financial security.

The gap is “particularly concerning”, according to the report, because women face more challenges and complications than men when it comes to personal finance. For one, women have a longer lifespan and typically outlive men by an average of five years. They also spend more on healthcare and get lower pension payouts, gratuities or provident funds because they tend to log fewer years in the workforce.

“Ninety per cent of women will be solely responsible for their finances at some point in their lives due to the death of a spouse or divorce, yet women report much lower levels of financial knowledge and confidence than men,” the report said.

The study noted there is an “alarming” gap between men and women in the areas of monthly cash flow, paying off debt and saving for emergencies. There are also worrying signs that could spell financial trouble for women: the number of females that are paying off their credit card debt in full and setting aside money for emergency is on a decline.

Among the women surveyed for the study, 66 per cent said they have general investment knowledge regarding stocks, bonds and mutual funds, compared to 89 per cent of men. Only 29 per cent of women (compared to 45 per cent of men) are confident that the funds they invest are allocated appropriately between cash, bonds and stocks.

In terms of money management, less than half, or 43 per cent, of women set aside an emergency fund, which is necessary to cover unplanned expenses. Among men, majority of them (63 per cent) make sure they have money for emergency.

When it comes to making bill payments, more men (93 per cent) than women (82 per cent) pay off their dues on time. Less than half (45 per cent) of women regularly pay off their credit card balances in full, compared to 68 per cent of men.

Insurance is another necessary aspect of financial planning. Among women, only 12 per cent have a long-term care insurance in place to protect themselves against the costs of a nursing home stay, compared to 16 per cent of men. An equally low number of women (17 per cent) have an umbrella insurance policy that can protect their assets from any lawsuits, compared to 37 per cent of men.

Financial advisers in the UAE observe that many women in this market don’t prioritize financial planning. Most often, it is the husband that takes care of the investments and retirement planning, while women are comfortable with running the day-to-day household finances.

It’s high time women brush aside the stereotypes and take responsibility for their financial health. Here’s what women need to be doing:

• Start saving now. Don’t delay it any longer.

• Cut back on your expenses.

• Set aside emergency money that is equivalent to three to six months of your salary. The money will come handy if you lose your job or during a medical emergency.

• Pay off your bills in full and on time.

• Plan and save for your retirement.

• Be prepared to manage on your own in the future, even if you are married and currently enjoys financial support from your spouse.

• Learn how to invest. Don’t rely on your man to do it for you.

• Seek expert advice on what insurance you need to have. Some recommend taking out critical illness insurance, considering that one in four women between the age of 40 and 70 get diagnosed with a serious health issue.