Over the past year the global spotlight has been sharply focused on the harassment, abuse and exploitation of women, helping to empower women everywhere. With its theme #PressforProgress, International Women’s Day on 8 March 2018 will continue to shine a light on the issues and challenges affecting women.
“Movements like #MeToo and #PressforProgress stimulate important discussions, giving a voice to hundreds of thousands of women and helping them take charge of their individual situations,” says Ntombi Tisani, head of marketing at Old Mutual Personal Finance.

“All sectors of society benefit when women are empowered – whether they are reshaping industries like film, music and literature, raising inclusive and open-minded families, or continuing to break glass ceilings in business and politics.”

However, the experiences and opportunities of individual women are influenced by their own unique circumstances and environments, Tisani points out. “For South African women, who still earn between 15% and 17% less than a male counterpart in the same role, liberation and progress without financial freedom is only half of the battle won.”

With only 5,9 out of 10 women satisfied with their current financial situation, according to the 2017 Old Mutual Savings & Investment Monitor, this International Women’s Day challenges women to make progress in a critical aspect of their lives: to protect their financial security and income-earning ability against the risk of disability.

In South Africa, 127 people suffer a permanent disability every day, yet many women are unprepared for this possibility and still rely on others – their spouse, partner or parents – to take care of them and their families if they are no longer able to earn an income.

“Relying on a partner or parent is no guarantee of financial security, so it’s troubling that only 35% of metropolitan working women are covered for death or disability,” says Tisani.

“It highlights the urgent need for women to secure their financial futures – and that of their children – by seeking out quality advice and putting in place a financial plan that includes sufficient risk cover. We know and see almost daily how a woman’s income and her family’s lifestyle can be severely impacted by an unforeseen disability. The fact that women tend to outlive men by several years further highlights women’s greater need for long-term financial security.”

Tisani offers these tips for women to protect their financial security:

* Take stock of where you are in your life and identify your responsibilities and priorities.

* Ask yourself the following questions: Who will pay my monthly expenses if I am unable to work? Will I still receive an income if I’m temporarily unable to work? Will I be able to maintain my and my family’s lifestyle if I become disabled?

* Identify your goals and dreams and what the financial implications might be.

* Find out whether you have life and disability cover – and what it includes.

* Speak to a financial adviser to translate your goals into an actionable plan that includes appropriate and sufficient risk cover.