ON AUGUST 9, 1956, more than 20 000 women of all races and ages from every corner of South Africa marched together towards the Union Buildings in Pretoria. These brave women were marching in protest against past laws that proposed even further restrictions on the movements of women.
Fast forward to 2019, and women are still facing struggles, although different from before. According to research from UBS, a global financial services provider, 85% of women manage everyday expenses, but only 23% take the lead when it comes to long-term financial planning. Even though women are more proactive with day-to-day household finances, it is critical that they also set themselves up for financial success in the future.
Unfortunately, there are still far too many stories of women having a limited understanding of the benefits of long-term financial planning and being dependent on their partners. According to a Stats SA report released in 2018, four out of 10 marriages end in divorce before their 10th anniversary. So, ultimately, relying on your partner's financial plan alone could potentially lead to financial stress.
We need to change the narrative. Women need to take responsibility for their financial futures and empower themselves with the knowledge and skills they need to challenge and change the age-old, gender-biased social constructs and stereotypes of women in the workplace, and females and finances in general.
Tips to take control
- You need to interrogate your financial health regularly to ensure your money is working as hard as you are.
- You need to know what the money situation is at home. Get the facts, understand what the risks to your future financial security are – both short and long term, and put plans in place to mitigate those risks.
- You need to have appropriate insurance so that both you and your dependants are covered for any unforeseen events.
- You should have a diversified investment portfolio and sufficient savings for retirement.
Consulting with a financial adviser will help you develop your own financial plan - the essential guide to help you establish goals and set priorities for your future, all with the financial end-goal in mind.
For women to be comfortable and take ownership of their finances, there needs to be an effort to improve financial literacy among women. The fact is, two out of three students getting bachelor’s degrees from South African universities are women; this is according to the Department of Higher Education.
In my experience, when women speak to a financial adviser they tend to ask questions about money management, they investigate their investment options, and they take fewer risks with their money. So, we must instil the value of money management and the discipline of financial investment in our girls and young women early on.
Equipped with the right attitude and education, women can feel empowered and confident about their financial future. The rise of financial literacy will, in the long run, have a positive impact on the financial services industry for years to come. Not only will this help them run households better, but it will also bring a turnaround in the fortunes of our economy.
This article was published on the IOL Website on 09 August 2019.