Women’s Month in South Africa serves to commemorate the legacy of the women of 1956. As audacious and full of valour as they were, I hope that the our upcoming FinWomen event - taking place on Sunday the 09th of August 2020 - initiates us into a different conversation in
South Africa that is relevant to the challenges faced by the quintessential, contemporary young female, that includes financial planning; something that has been deemed as the job of men for too long. The time is now!
The question of improving financial literacy in the female populace is the most imperative question to ask right now. History has shown time and time again that cash has been king, and for far too long much of that cash has been in the hands of the custodians of patriarchal systems. A point was made to keep women as domesticated, child-like beings who had no business interfering with the finances of their homes and countries.
To relate this to our very own home country, this subject made me think of a scene in the popular vernacular TV show “Isibaya” on Mzansi Magic. It portrayed the efforts of a character named Phumelele, the second wife of the show’s lead character uMpiyakhe, to leave her polygamous marriage which hindered her from growing and forming her own identity and finances. In the scene, her husband accuses her of having an affair with his lawyer, meanwhile, she had been working closely with the lawyer to help get her husband out of jail, and learn certain business concepts to try and develop herself. His response to this was: “Wena usungenaphi ezintweni zamabhizinisi?” (Directly translating to: Where do you get off involving yourself in anything in business?).
As fictitious as these characters are, stories like this reflect the realities of South African women trapped in marriages/relationships with patriarchal men, and how many of them are discouraged from taking individual responsibility for their finances. So to answer the fundamental question: “Should women be financially literate in modern day South Africa”, look around at the different situations women find themselves in, and the answers will be a resounding yes!
In 2014, Stats SA gave a report on the number of recorded births that took place. According to their research, more than 1,1 million births were registered, yet 64% had no data or reference of the father. This indicates that more and more households are being led by single mothers. According to an article written by Parent24 in 2017, it is estimated that the cost of raising a child in South Africa is R90 000 a year. When one considers the number of single mothers who, while dependent on the SASSA social grants, still have to keep up with rising inflation, it is heartbreaking to realise that proper financial planning for most might just be the last thing on their minds.
All of these factors could indeed impede the ability of young South African moms to plan for their children’s future. Simultaneously, these challenges should be the main motivating force behind campaigning for the increased financial literacy of women. If we are the primary caregivers of the next generation, then the onus should be on us to do everything we can to learn about the financial implications of our children’s development, and how we can also teach our young ones good financial habits. Surely, active provisions should be made by local municipalities, especially in rural areas, to continuously educate women about financial planning and independence. Still, government cannot do it alone, as this would call for efforts by women as well, to throw away the self pity, and claim back our power( *chants “She works for the money from the start to the finish” by Beyonce*)
Guess what ladies? Research shows that women who reach the age of 65 tend to live longer than men who reach 65. In most cases, men pass away and leave their wives as widows, at times without any financial security. Another alarming piece of research shows that “more than 80 percent of older women taking part in a 2017 study couldn’t pass a retirement financial literacy quiz. Nearly twice as many of their male peers were able to pass.” Yes, we can say that we’ve lived in a world that has sought to exclude us from the table, such that as soon as the members of the table were no longer there, we’re told to then take a seat without an idea of what to say or act at the table. If we’re the ones that are going to be outliving our husbands, our bosses and leaders, then we surely must be equipped with the knowledge we need about money to make good financial decisions which is why, on our blog, we’ve dedicated a plethora of informative posts on investments and finance for ladies!
Women’s Month in South Africa serves to commemorate the legacy of the women of 1956. As audacious and full of valor as they were, I hope that the our upcoming FinWomen event - taking place on Sunday the 09th of August 2020 - initiates us into a different conversation in
South Africa that is relevant to the challenges faced by the quintessential, contemporary young female, that include financial planning; something that has been deemed as the job of men for too long. The time is now!
Author: Sthandiwe Msomi