How to be a better financial ally to women all over the world

Three women stand side by side.
Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash.

In the week of International Women’s Day it’s important to acknowledge that women all over the world have extremely varied life experiences. Femmes are a broad group of people with different cultural backgrounds, different income levels and varying degrees of privilege.

With this in mind, we’ve come up with a list of ways both men and women can be better financial allies.

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New research from SuperFriend found that more women ended up working less hours as a result of the pandemic and there were twice as many women with no paid work at all last April, than there were men. This had a knock on effect with two in three women saying their mental health suffered last year.

So what can you do to help? Well possibly one of the simplest things to do is to actually talk about money with your friends or family members. Money as a talking point has often been taboo in conversations. It can feel very personal and not like something you should make your business.

However, if you know someone who is struggling financially, try to banish the stigma and pass on some budgeting tips or point them in the direction of free financial counselling services.

Don’t buy the t-shirt

T-shirts with female empowerment slogans churned out by fast fashion brands are a particular pet peeve of mine. Why? Because these so-called ‘girl power’ t-shirts were most likely made by a woman in a garment factory who does not earn a living wage.

According to the Clean Clothes Campaign around 60 million people make up the global garment industry, the majority of these workers are women. They are often underpaid and face gender-based violence. So to be a better ally to women around the world, our advice is to avoid fast fashion. Instead shop second hand, make do and mend or buy choice items from local makers, who you can be sure are earning a decent wage. To support garment workers around the world, take action and sign petitions demanding better working conditions, higher wages and more transparency from big fashion brands.

Be intersectional

Following on from this, as we mentioned earlier women have extremely different experiences and varying degrees of privilege. The next time you buy anything, see if you could get it from a local, WOC and/or Indigenous female owned business. A few to consider are:

  • Haus of Dizzy, founded by Kristy Dickinson
  • K-Rae Designs, founded by Kimberly Engwicht
  • Clothing the Gap, founded by Laura Thompson and Sarah Sheridan
  • Amber Days, founded by Corina Muir

Invest mindfully

Finally, think more about where you keep your money. You could be making lots of personal improvements, but if your money is with a bank or super fund that doesn’t actively invest in good things, you might unwittingly be supporting the very things you are against.

According to a 2017 report from the Walk Free Foundation, women and girls make up 71% of modern slavery victims. So to support women around the world, you might want to find out whether your bank has a strong policy when it comes to not supporting modern slavery. Or whether your superannuation fund actively invests in projects that uplift women. An example of a financial service provider trying to do better is Future Super. In 2019, Future Super implemented a policy whereby it would not invest in companies with all-male boards.

Want to read more like this? Head to our life and money hub for more news on international women’s day. Or if you want to read about women and insurance, check out our piece on why car insurance is often less for women.