Women must be financially independent to be fully empowered

Research shows that Covid-19 has caused women greater economic hardship than men.

Dolana Conco, regional manager at Alexander Forbes, believes that women must be financially independent to be fully empowered.

In South Africa, a woman is killed every three hours. The fight to stop gender-based violence shines the light on what is described as South Africa’s other pandemic.

Conco notes that there has been a surge and persistence of domestic violence and abuse. “This is mostly attributable to financial dependency where a woman sees no way out.” She explains that financial abuse is one of the main reasons women are unable to leave an abusive partner. As abusers control the finances, so their partner has to stay.

Strategies to gain financial independence

Conco offers the following strategies for women to gain financial independence:

  1. Inclusion and diversity - Only 56% of organisations in South Africa have a diversity and inclusion strategy according to a recent report entitled “When women thrive” by Mercer, Alexander Forbes’s strategic partner. The report explains that African women continue to face significant income inequality compared to their male counterparts. They also suffer from the absence of support systems and limited opportunities to advance into senior leadership positions.
  1. Gender pay parity - Domestic violence and abuse and women's economic security are interlinked. Conco says: “Women will continue to face challenges from unfair treatment to unequal pay and limited access to career advancement.” She therefore believes that gender pay parity must be implemented.
  1. Financial literacy in schools and impoverished communities - To stop financial abuse, Conco feels that it is imperative to teach women financial skills to prevent women from entering and staying in abusive relationship: “Financial skills are a weapon to protect women. Financial skills need to be taught in the classroom, universities and impoverished communities,” says Conco.

Financial education for women is critical to preventing financial abuse and helping women be fully empowered,” concludes Conco.

 

Author
Dolana Conco
Regional Executive at Alexander Forbes