Women should control their money, writes Isaac Moledi

Too many women in South Africa still rely on the men in their lives to run their financial affairs.

Too many women in South Africa still rely on the men in their lives to run their financial affairs.

After 13 years of democracy, they are still not making financial provision for themselves and their children.

Financial experts say that August, being Women's Month, is an opportune time for them to take their financial independence seriously.

Statistics still show a glaring disparity between men and women and call for women to take stock of their financial planning.

Gender disparities in retirement provision and life policy coverage suggest women are still too passive when it comes to making financial provision for themselves.

According to Liberty Life, industry research among independent financial advisers has indicated that financial planners meet male clients 78percent of the time.

Only 12percent of planning sessions are known to involve women. The other 10percent of respondents gave no information on gender differentiation.

As for Liberty Life, less than 40percent of its policyholders are women, according to Joretha Visser, head of risk product development at the company.

Experts believe that better job opportunities, lifestyle choices and a high divorce rate mean that, whether by choice or circumstance, more South African women have to manage their own finances.

Gender legislation has improved career prospects, giving women comparatively more economic muscle. Career women are tending to get married later, while the incidence of divorce means many women are suddenly forced to fend for themselves.

According to Visser, a US study showed that one in four women would suffer a stroke or heart attack by the age of 60.

In addition, US-sourced statistics indicate that about 20percent of women will never marry, 50percent of marriages end in divorce and 75percent of women would spend a third of their lives single, as widows or divorcees.

Nowadays, when households are often either headed up by single women or women contributing to the joint household income, Visser says there is a need for women to think about how to save and manage their finances.

The challenge, says Liberty Life, is to improve awareness among women.

"The tools for financial empowerment are available. All women have to do is seize them.

"Women have a duty to themselves and their children to find their voice on financial matters. They need to involve themselves in the financial decision-making," says Visser.

She says women need to sit down and assess their current financial situation.

They must know exactly where they are in terms of their present protection and future goals.

"To do that, women have to be more aware and more proactive. Now's a good time to start," Visser says.