Choose to challenge yourself this International Women's Day


Women have suffered most in the jobs market since the pandemic, new research shows ahead of International Women's Day on March 8.

Women's jobs were 1.8 times more vulnerable to the crisis than men's jobs, according to research by McKinsey and Co, says Sally Sinclair, CEO of the National Employment Services Association, the peak body for the employment sector.

Australia's gender pay gap is currently 14%, with women earning on average $241.50 a week less than men.

choose to challenge yourself this international women's day

In addition, women still lag men with their super balances. According to Women in Super, women currently retire with 47% less super than men, they live five years longer than men on average, and they receive only a third of the government tax concessions around super.

The most frightening statistic is that 40% of older single retired women live in poverty and experience economic insecurity. This is despite women making up 46.9% of the workforce.

The theme of International Women's Day this year is "choose to challenge".

The current inequality for women needs to be changed so the idea is to challenge the status quo to achieve greater equality for women in the workplace, in society and to ensure equality particularly in pay and retirement savings.

To help our positions now, here are four challenges women can take up to improve their financial situations.

Challenge yourself to ask for a pay rise

Do you research, find out what comparable jobs pay, and ask to be paid what you're worth. Make sure you know what the rate would be for a man in the same or similar role. If you're in a job that has no room to move think about retraining or adding a skill so that you are creating greater ability to earn a higher income down the track.

Challenge yourself to spend less on utilities

When bills come due - or even before - make a note to call the supplier and see if it can offer you a better deal. If it says no, shop around - there are usually savings to be made this way. This includes electricity, gas, phone, and insurance - health, life, home and car.

Challenge yourself to focus on conscious spending

Look at what you are spending money on that you're not really getting enjoyment from - buying takeaways, having too many streaming services, buying more clothes than you have time to wear. If you're not really getting enjoyment from these purchases, they should be easy to stop.

Challenge yourself to find out more about your finances

Explore what you have now, what you need today, tomorrow and down the track, and figure out how you can best get there. If you're not sure of a path take, consider seeking financial advice.

Most importantly, choose to take up the challenge today and actually start today.

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Julia Newbould was editor-at-large and later managing editor of Money from November 2019 to February 2022. She was previously editor of Financial Planning and Super Review magazines; managing editor at InvestorInfo and at Morningstar Australia. Julia co-authored The Joy of Money, a book on women and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney where she serves on the alumni council.