By Kathleen Storey
Why do we celebrate Women’s Month? The simple answer is that women are the mothers of the nation. They are the life givers, the nurturers, and the teachers. For that they deserve our appreciation. In South Africa, we celebrate Women’s Month in August, in commemoration of the 20 000 women who marched in protest of Pass Laws, on the 9th of August 1956. The 9th of August is now an annual celebration of the courage and determination shown by that group of women, and all those that they represent. Perhaps more women would have marched that day, if they were not at home, raising a nation.
While women will forever be the child bearers and the care givers, the role of women in society has shifted since 1956. Today, more women get an education, work, and take part in activities outside of the home. However, this does not take away from their responsibilities at home. Family typically comes first for women, which means that despite their knowledge, skills and ambitions, there are times when home is the most important place for them to be. This puts women in a position of great power, as they are the life givers, but also a position of vulnerability, as they give up so much in order to do so.
Financial freedom is one way for women to protect themselves, and take back some of the power they relinquish to family responsibility. Financial freedom means that women can stay home to raise their children, or retire to help raise their grandchildren. Financial freedom means that women are able to provide for themselves and their families, and not have to rely on others, who may exploit that reliance. Financial freedom means that a woman can allow herself to be ill and take time to recover, without financial stresses weighing on her. Financial freedom means female empowerment.
There are many financial tools available to assist women in attaining their freedom. Savings for the unexpected is the first step. Whether it be a savings account or short-term investment, a sum of money nestled away can give a woman the confidence to walk away from a negative environment and start again somewhere better. All women should have some form financial protection against illness, whether it be dreaded disease cover or income disability. This affords her the opportunity to take the time she needs to recover, and re-adjust to life, knowing her financial needs will still be met. Another tool is retirement planning, offering the freedom to return to the home after a long, productive career, and be able to reap the rewards of her hard-working youth.
This month, we should not just celebrate women, but encourage women to celebrate and empower themselves.