Ways to empower women for financial independence

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It's vital to do your homework about the person you're entrusting with your wealth creation and investment plans. For example, if you need
someone to take a comprehensive
look at your finances, a planner
who can only sell you a policy
won’t be useful to you.
It's vital to do your homework about the person you're entrusting with your wealth creation and investment plans. For example, if you need someone to take a comprehensive look at your finances, a planner who can only sell you a policy won’t be useful to you.
Delmaine Donson/Getty

VOICES


More and more women are becoming the financial heads of their households. Yet, women remain the most financially vulnerable demographic. Research shows that, despite having a stable, guaranteed monthly income, employed women worry about covering their monthly household expenses.

In fact, 64% of South African women cannot stretch their salaries to the end of the month, and fear what will happen should a financial emergency, like an unexpected medical or transport expense, occur.

Women tend to feel more stressed and anxious about money than their male counterparts do. They also face more financial pressure and indebtedness, due to single parenthood and the gender pay gap – women typically earn 35% less than men for the same work.

READ: Money is statistically different for women

These factors have an immense impact on women’s finances, exposing them to debt and inhibiting their financial advancement. What’s more, despite the continued rising cost of living and many households already reeling from the financial strain, women are more vulnerable to debt traps.

While South African working women often bear the brunt of the country’s battered economy, the current rate of financial innovation has allowed new solutions that cater to indebted and struggling workers to enter the market.

READ: Personal Finance: Women should be confident to enquire about their finances

From reward programmes at grocery stores and high-performing, low-cost unit trust investments to earned wage access (EWA), each of these solutions is helping South African women take control of their money and stretch it a little further each month.

While reward programmes and unit trusts rely on commitment from people to constantly use the product to reap the benefits, a solution like EWA can be seamlessly integrated by an employer for the benefit of their employees.

READ: Borrowing from days already worked

Once it has been implemented, employees can then access a portion of their hard-earned wages at any time during the pay cycle – allowing them to avoid high-interest debt and, over time, become financially resilient. As this is not a loan but an advance, there are no repayments, hidden fees or interest. It also has no financial impact on the employer.

READ: Financially pressured employees are not productive in the workplace

So, at a time when women’s budgets are already being stretched and a financial emergency or shortfall could be crippling, it’s crucial that employers give them the ability to take control of their financial reality.

Without the burden of having to ask friends and family for help or seeking expensive loan solutions with high-interest rates, women will be able to cover their transportation costs, food, medical emergencies, school fees, bill payments and monthly utility costs.

What’s more, by reimagining the traditional payday cycle, employers will be able to empower their women employees to become more financially sustainable and independent.

Denise Neethling, head of marketing at earned wage access company Paymenow


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