The state of women in our nation

2009-08-21 15:48

 A recent study shows that while many South African women are positive

about the future, they are not saving and are yet to find fulfilling careers.

MOKGADI SEABI takes a look at the findings.

DESPITE having money troubles, today’s woman has an optimistic outlook, with

91% subscribing to being a “positive person”.

This revelation is contained in the latest Fifth Female Nation Survey, which

was conducted by Women24.com this June.

This comprehensive yearly survey attracted participation from 8 641 women of

different backgrounds, races, sizes and ages. It explored a mix of “new reality”

topics such as the recession and carbon footprints to traditional themes such as

sex and balancing work with the rest of one’s life.

Despite the general upbeat mood, the study revealed some salacious and at

times surprising findings.

Sam Wilson, the website’s editor, says: “While we found some typical trends

we were shocked to discover South African women are turning a blind eye to the

financial crisis, don’t save for themselves or their kid’s education and can’t

afford to settle their debt at the end of the month.”

Debt burdened but with a secret stash on the side

At the end of every month a shocking 33% of South African women cannot afford

to pay their credit card bills. About 21% of them have more than one card while

36% say they don’t save a cent. Among those with children, only 31% have started

an education fund.

Carl Fischer, chief executive of marketing and corporate affairs at Capitec

Bank, says it is not only women who struggle with their finances at the end of

the month.

“It takes discipline for a person to use a credit card,” he says. He adds

that “everyone needs to just tighten their budgets and start putting money away

for rainy days”.

Cape Town resident Fundiswa Lozwa (30) says: “I’ve had to cut down on

luxuries, change brands and find myself chasing after specials at supermarkets

just to save a rand or two. So, yes, some things have had to change but there

are things you simply cannot downgrade, recession or not, like my 100% pure

fruit juice rather than nectar or fruit juice blend.”

Not living their dreams

A staggering 70% of those surveyed say they still haven’t found what they are

looking for.

“While the idea of becoming a supermodel, a travel writer or joining Green

Peace may be their aspiration, it isn’t always practical,” says Wilson.

Payback is best

Forty-one percent of women who have been cheated on give back what they get,

and indulging in affairs once their partner’s infidelity is out in the open.

Wilson says: “There’s nothing quite like a woman’s revenge and South African

ladies aren’t afraid to get their own back.”

Having said that, he says affairs do have disastrous effects on marriages,

with 52% failing because of them. Among female breadwinners the inclination to

have affairs is even higher, with 51% saying they’ve had it on with other men.

Money can buy love

When it comes to matters of the heart more than a quarter of those surveyed

say they would marry for money. However, 14% say marriage is outdated.

Despite these trends 77% of women say they are happy with their men, 62% are

fulfilled, 69% supported and 72% understood.

Kids do the darndest things

While having children is not for everyone (only 57% of respondents were

moms), among those who do 33% say that kids do stunt their career growth

(against 41% of non-moms) but do not play havoc with their sex lives. Most

surprising, however, are the married professionals who think kids hold them back

more than single, childless women say they do (36% vs 30%).

Johannesburg resident Lebo Motaung (25), a retail professional, believes

women face greater pressures in the workplace to overcome stereotypes and prove

their capabilities.

“Having a child or children adds another big responsibility. Most women feel

the pressure to sacrifice one for the other and in most cases it’s usually their

careers.”

More want to work from home

Despite almost half (46%) saying they are satisfied with their jobs, almost

three-quarters (70%) say they would work from home if they had the choice.

Wilson says: “For many women the idea of setting up a home office is a

sure-fire way of killing two, if not three birds, with one stone.”

Best medicine

When it comes to taking time out, women who write for pleasure or meditate

are among the happiest.

According to Wilson: “Taking a break from the busy world, jotting thoughts

down in a journal or blog or doing the lotus position in a yoga class have

significant benefits for women’s wellbeing.”

Keeping up appearances

On the topic of looking good, 41% say they would consider plastic surgery and

55% think living in certain suburbs is important to them. Being perfectly

groomed trickles over into other areas of their lives too.

Lozwa, who says she wouldn’t consider plastic surgery, says: “I don’t think

it’s a surgery issue. It’s more a self-esteem and confidence issue, especially

for those who do it simply to beautify themselves. I would say? one should

consider it only in cases of severe medical treatment.”

Being positive about the future is great. But today’s woman needs to pay

extra attention to her spending habits.

Saving for the future, including for her children’s education and careful

planning could make the load a little lighter...

For more on the study log onto Fifth Female Nation Survey website

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