Financial Equality for Women – More than a Generation Away
Australian women are likely to wait 45 years, more than a generation, before achieving financial equality.
The latest Financy Women’s Index shows that progress on economic equality for women has slowed over the past
financial year. Based on current trends, Australian women are 45 years away from the same financial experiences
The Women’s Index rose just 0.5 points to 123.9 points in the June quarter of 2019, from 123.4 points in the
March quarter. The Financy Women’s Index has a progress target of 172 points.
While women’s economic progress has improved 5 points over the 2018-19 financial year, it’s less than the 7.5 point
gain recorded in the 2017-18 financial year when the index score rose to 118.9 points from 111.4 points.
“It’s disappointing to see that despite greater awareness around gender equality, progress slowed over the past
financial year, reflecting the weakest start to a calendar year since 2017, when the Index was first launched,” the
Financy Women’s Index founder Bianca Hartge-Hazelman says.
Financy Women’s Index growth:
The biggest factors that held back women’s economic progress in the June period included a
moderation in female full-time employment growth and a lack of action by corporate Australia
to improve the representation of women on the boards of the top 200 listed companies.
The factors that supported women’s economic progress, according to the index, include a higher
rate of workforce participation, a narrowing of the superannuation gender gap, improved underemployment,
higher tertiary enrolments and a lowering gender pay gap.
The latest data on superannuation from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that in the 2017-18 financial
year, the superannuation gender gap narrowed to 28%, from 34% in the 2015-16 financial year.
“It’s great news that the super gender gap has fallen to its lowest point, but this is being driven largely by
women’s increased workforce participation,” AMP Financial Planning adviser Dianne Charman said.
“The super gap widens significantly by 45 years of age because of time spent out of the workforce raising
children, so women still need to have a plan for making extra contributions later in their working life.”
AFA Inspire Chair Kate McCallum is delighted that women’s super balances are notching up.
“However I’m also seriously worried that it seems that women’s progress in one area is matched by
backward steps in others, like the stalling of full time employment,” she said. “It seems that when
some people see improvements in one aspect of women’s equality, they extrapolate this to mean
that women have equal opportunities in all areas. And then I’m worried because if they don’t
believe that inequality persists, they don’t need to be concerned – or do anything – to bridge the gap.”
Thanks to Madeline Hislop and Women’s Agenda for this article.