Today is International Women's Day. It is the day we acknowledge the women of Australia. And it is a day to reflect upon both significant social progress and the yawning gaps that remain to be closed.
It is 115 years since women were granted suffrage in Australia but progress towards financial equality remains glacial. The facts remain that:
- many women do not receive equal pay for equal work (the gap is 17%)
- there is a substantial difference (30%) in women's access to superannuation
- women are much more likely to be offered casual or part-time work
One commentator describes it as "surprising" that more women are not in full-time work. No, it is not surprising, it is a continuation of entrenched discrimination that dates back a thousand years or more.
And financial discrimination remains one of the big gaps to close. Not only do many women not receive equal pay for work it is also the case that sectors of the workforce which predominantly employ women are lower paid. Today many child care workers are knocking off work early at 3.20 pm to demonstrate the time at which they begin to work "for free".
The property and finance industries remain dominated by men but there are positive signs that this is changing as more women assume leadership roles in the sector. This is encouraging but broader social change is what we really need.
If you want to borrow money to buy a house then you need at least the following:
- good savings
- a good income
- a strong net asset position
- stable and secure employment
- a secure exit strategy from the loan which may require an adequate superannuation nest egg.
Women are often our most conscientious, capable, organised and aware household financial managers. But entrenched financial discrimination means that their capacity to borrow to money to secure their own futures is very often much lower than that of their male counterparts.
This is an important challenge that we must address together as a community. If not for our sisters, then at the very least for our daughters!