WOMEN'S MONTH

Actually, we’re pretty good with money, but pay us what we deserve

While looking after children and living longer are blessings, financially they are not and together with lower pay they leave women feeling helpless

We should celebrate the fact that as women, despite the odds against us, we may actually be doing better than men when it comes to managing our money. 

Women around the world have another two centuries to wait for the global gender pay gap to close fully. Picture: 123RF/LIGHTWISE
Women around the world have another two centuries to wait for the global gender pay gap to close fully. Picture: 123RF/LIGHTWISE

Women’s Day – or women’s month as it has become – is supposed to be a celebration of women.

But speakers and articles about how women and their finances seldom celebrate anything – instead they tell us the depressing things we already know – that we earn less and pay the price of staying at home to look after children and living longer. 

Laura du Preez
Laura du Preez

While looking after children and living longer are blessing, financially they are not and together with lower pay leave us feeling helpless.

But we should celebrate the fact that as women, despite the odds against us, we may actually be doing better than men when it comes to managing our money. 

The 2020 Old Mutual Savings and Investment Monitor shows that we’ve scored better on coping mechanisms when our finances are tight. It shows fewer women have done any of these not-so-great things with their money: 

  • Borrowed from friends and family;
  • Fallen behind on household bills;
  • Fallen behind on credit card payments;
  • Fallen behind on stokvel savings;
  • Had to borrow from stokvels;
  • Fallen behind on home loan payments;
  • Cashed in savings; or
  • Taken out a personal loan or loan from an employer.

The only place where we are marginally worse than men, it seems, is on managing store card payments. 

With these stronger money habits, we would be at an advantage if we enjoyed greater protection during child-bearing years and gender equal pay. 

This year an article on the price we pay for motherhood in the Financial Times has a coronavirus twist. Women’s finances have been more severely impacted by the lockdowns as mothers are more likely than fathers to have moved out of paid work by reducing their hours or resigning to look after children, the paper says quoting research done by the UK’s Institute for Fiscal Studies and the UCL Institute for Education.

The research found women were 47% more likely to have lost their jobs and 14% more likely to have been put on unpaid leave than men. 

The institutes also found that children meant women were only able to do an hour of uninterrupted work for every three that men did. 

When it comes to the gender pay gap, the Financial Times in a different article is quoting the World Economic Forum as saying women around the world have another two centuries to wait for the global gender pay gap to close fully.

The WEF says across the world women’s average annual income is $11 500 versus $21 500 for men.

Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg told the Financial Times that 38% of the gap in pay between men and women cannot be explained by hours worked, experience and occupation – it is just employers paying less because they get away with it. 

She says if the pay gap was fixed it would lift three million women out of poverty in the US. 

In South Africa, PwC has produced a report showing the gender pay gap for executive directors in companies listed on the JSE. The Executive Directors: Practices and Remuneration Trends report 2020 shows that the pay gap between men and women is widest in large listed companies – 45% - and differs according to industry type. 

Executives in medium-sized companies earn on an average 39% less and those serving smaller companies 25%. 

Why do we as women allow this pay gap and why do those who reach executive level not use their positions to campaign for an end to the gender pay gap?

We should demand proof of gender pay equality from every employer and supplier of goods and services. We should use our retail and investment power to demand that proof from the brands we support that they practice gender equality in pay. We should look for the gender pay equality stamp  like we look for the Beauty without Cruelty one on the products we buy.

When Game surveyed its shoppers this year, it found that 87% of 1,400 women surveyed were responsible for shopping decisions on household goods and groceries. 

It also found most women were willing to switch brands to save a bit of money. Perhaps we’d be willing to switch brands if it meant collectively as women we would earn more. 

  • Du Preez is the editor of Sowetan Money

 

X