Women’s month

I always have mixed feelings about celebrating Women’s Month in South Africa. We’ve made great strides but also seem to be falling behind on too many important issues.

In the financial planning space, it has become very clear that more work needs to be done to assist women with making better financial decisions. There are many issues to be highlighted but we’ll be addressing just four of them this women’s month.

The most obvious one of them all is income. A recent PWC report found that women are consistently paid less than their male counterparts across all industries in this country. There is not a single industry where women out-earn men. Lower education levels in women used to be cited as one of the main drivers but more data is proving this argument to be false.  

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report benchmarks 149 countries on their progress towards gender parity and the drivers of it. The Education Attainment Gap (Percentage of the population aged 15 and over with the ability to both read and write and make simple arithmetic calculations) globally is now at an average of 5%.  According to this report, ‘Thirty-six countries have now achieved full parity and another 49 countries have closed at least 99% of the gap in education. Even the worst performer (Chad) is more than halfway to parity (57%), while the second- and third-worst performers (Guinea and Congo) have bridged two thirds of the gap.’

A snapshot of South Africa’s current gender parity:

  • There are more women than men who are enrolled at tertiary institutions
  • There are more female professional and technical workers than there are men
  • Labour force participation is almost at parity and men occupy most of the senior positions

The gaps in education between genders is almost closed. In many instances, women are becoming more educated than men, yet are still being paid less. South Africa, ranked 19th overall, is said to have made some progress on the Political Empowerment sub index but has seen a decline in wage equality. (Wage equality between women and men for similar work). This speaks to an unwillingness for gender pay gap redress. That is why financial planning, for women in particular, is so crucial if we are to have any hopes of living and retiring securely.

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