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In over 100 countries around the world, central banks, stock markets, finance providers, NGOs, and others are coming together en masse this week and next to target the financial inclusion of one of the most underserved client segments: children and youth. Global Money Week (GMW), now in its fourth year, is an ambitious movement to raise awareness on the importance of youth inclusion and to empower our rising generation. Indeed, around the world only 38 percent of youth (ages 15-25) have some sort of account at a formal financial institution.

The theme of this year’s GMW is “Save today. Safe tomorrow.” Globally, savings rates among young people are dismally low. In high income countries, 42 percent of youth save in formal institutions. The next highest regions are East Asia and Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa, where youth savings rates are 19 and 9 percent, respectively. Why is this the case? On the consumer side, when asked, youth most often cite the same reasons adults most often cite: a lack of money and high account fees.

In effect until March 17, Global Money Week kicked off on Monday at the New Zealand Stock Exchange with a symbolic ringing of the day’s opening bell by school children. The event was organized by the stock exchange operator and the country’s commission for financial capability, and included a conference for the kids to discuss the importance of starting to save when they’re young. The participating students were from a cluster of schools taking part in financial literacy programs facilitated by a nonprofit organization, Sorted, that works to make children and youth “financially fluent.” Over 25 stock exchanges around the world will participate in this year’s GMW, with bell-ringing, financial education workshops, dialogues, and guided tours.

Running the gambit, along with the festivities at stock exchanges, GMW 2015 activities include a talk with area teenagers on effectively using financial tools from the Albanian Association of Banks, a media session on youth microfinance services for the Assay Public School in Ethiopia by Nisir Microfinance, and, from the country’s Habitat Center for Development and Governance, drama workshops on financial literacy at eight schools in Turkey. To peruse the GMW’s comprehensive list of events, click here.

GMW prides itself on incorporating child and youth participation whenever possible – in both the design and realization of events. All told, it’s estimated that over 3 million kids will participate in GMW this year. GMW events also target others involved in youth inclusion. For example, this week in Colombia, Banca de la Oportunitas offered a training session for teachers and facilitators on approaching financial education instruction in the classroom.

Global Money Week is led by Child & Youth Finance International (CYFI), a global network working towards financial inclusion and economic empowerment of children and youth.

To get involved, visit the Global Money Week website where you can find a number of resources like a toolkit to help you organize events in your community and print packs which include downloadable GMW-branded collateral. To take part in the movement on social media, use the hashtag #GMW2015.

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