Financial independence for women

The global spotlight has been sharply focused on the harassment, abuse and exploitation of women, says Lizl Budhram of Old Mutual Personal Finance.

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Social media is leading the charge with #MeToo spearheading a discussion and empowering women across the world to break the silence and share their personal stories of intimidation and assault. This is an important discussion, giving a voice to thousands of women and helping them to speak out against bullies and take charge of their individual situations. It is also encouraging more men to review their attitudes towards women.

How does this impact you?

Discrimination and oppression are damaging to society, and affect everyone. Predatory behaviour is traumatic for victims and their families, and may have a major impact on their long-term mental health, relationships and careers. The international outcry has highlighted the need for women to empower themselves and each other, and to establish their independence. 

Read more: Empowered women empower women, an open letter

Many women, including in South Africa, are unable to escape domestic abuse because they are financially dependent on their partner. The 2016 Demographic and Health Survey found that 17% of surveyed women aged between 18 and 24 had experienced violence from their partner in the 12 months preceding the survey and 7% of women aged between 25 and 34 had experienced sexual violence. If there are also dependent children or an extended family involved, it may be even more difficult to end relationships. Therefore, enabling women financially is a critical part of empowerment.

On a personal note

It is key for society to listen and offer support to women, and call out unacceptable behaviour. The spotlight will continue to shine on this crucial conversation as we approach the 16 Days of Activism in November. The sooner women take charge of their own financial wellbeing, the sooner they will be free to decide their own futures. Take small steps by accessing free financial education tools online and improving your client’s financial literacy. Lay a proper foundation. Start an emergency fund to protect your client in case there are unexpected or difficult times ahead, especially major life-changing events such as a divorce or separation. The right financial advice can empower and prepare your client for challenging times.