The longer the COVID pandemic drags on, the more we need to improve the financial capability of women but also let’s not forget that we need to address long-standing structural issues that continue to put vulnerable groups at a disadvantage.
In writing this June quarter Financy Women’s Index, I’ve been struck by how lockdowns often lead to a more significant employment setback among women relative to men.
The flow-on effect is an exacerbation of financial inequalities as key service-driven industries such as retail and hospitality lose their fleeting vigor for a full economic recovery.
The country then becomes one of even bigger haves and even greater have nots, restricted by border lines that are impassable and divided by arm-chair experts in a blame-game of who spread the latest strain of the COVID virus.
Young people, particularly women aged under 25 years, who have their lives ahead of them are stuck in the tragedy of a neutral gear. Limited by opportunity to travel or work to fund it.
As a demographic, this cohort of women is yet to fully recover to their pre-COVID employment levels, unlike women over 65 years, who have seen the biggest jobs recovery of any age group.
While this is a positive sign for older women, there is also no escaping a harsh reality that for some of them, getting back into the workforce is out of sheer necessity to avoid some version of homelessness.
Then there’s unpaid work, which can feel inescapable during a lockdown even when you are buried in paid work – the reminder of what’s to be done next is constant.
For many parents, the horizon of home-schooling looks indefinite and for students, the rainbow of opportunity is constantly shifting course.
For me, the experience is a bit like the saying, when it rains, it pours. And right now, I’m not just guessing that other women and men, are feeling like that, I know they’re in the thick of a storm.
I believe that to reinvigorate women’s financial progress we must plan for structural reform and address financial capability.
The latter Financy plans to help address through the launch of a new Membership platform on September 27, which is dedicated to moving the dial of the Index.
Some of the many reasons that we’re launching this Membership include the fact that:
Women are likely to be less financially literate than men, according to the 2016 Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey.
Women have less financial aspiration than men, according to ANZ’s 2015 Survey of Adult Financial Literacy in Australia.
And women also report to having higher levels of stress around dealing with money, according to ASIC financial attitudes and behaviour tracker (2018 results).
As the Economic Equality Pact 2030, a Financy initiative in partnership with UniSA’s Centre For Workplace Excellence, also suggests, businesses and government have a role to play in addressing financial capability and the many structural issues that hold women back. Three immediate ways we change things for
the better include:
- Providing more accessible and affordable childcare. This would make a huge difference to women’s workforce participation, the gender pay gap, superannuation savings gap and rising homelessness.
- Normalising unpaid work in the home and challenging gender stereotypes at home in society are also critical.
- Paying superannuation on family leave, regardless of gender, and incentivising men to play a larger role in shared parenting.
Moving forward, it’s as much up to women to lean back for support, as it is for men to lean in and provide it.
Join the Financy Membership and help move the dial on women’s financial progress to equality. Be part of our social communities that support achieving fearless economic equality on LinkedIn and Facebook or follow our official pages on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.