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Retirement

Structural reforms required as women retire in poverty

  • September 02 2021
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Retirement

Structural reforms required as women retire in poverty

By Cameron Micallef
September 02 2021

Older women are continuing to suffer from financial hardship, as key structural issues continue to see women go backwards in terms of wealth compared with men, an industry expert has revealed.

Structural reforms required as women retire in poverty

Structural reforms required as women retire in poverty

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  • September 02 2021
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Older women are continuing to suffer from financial hardship, as key structural issues continue to see women go backwards in terms of wealth compared with men, an industry expert has revealed.

Structural reforms required as women retire in poverty

Following Equal Pay Day, Aware Super CEO Deanne Stewart has pointed to key reforms that are needed in order for women to have the same opportunities as men.

Noting the pay gap, which has an impact on women’s ability to spend, save and invest, Ms Stewart warned of the flow-on impacts it is having on retirement outcomes.

“We know there have been disturbing increases in the rates of poverty and homelessness among older women,” Ms Stewart said.

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“Recent data shows more than 400,000 women over the age of 45 are at risk of homelessness.”

With the size of the issue only increasing, Ms Stewart flagged a number of key regulatory changes that were needed in order for women to get ahead.

“There’s much that can be done to improve financial security for women. More accessible and affordable childcare would make a huge difference given time out of the workforce is one of the factors contributing to the super gender gap,” she continued.

“Normalising the sharing of caring responsibilities is also critical as well as paying superannuation on family leave.”

Equal Pay Day 2021 recognises that it has taken until 31 August to close the national gender pay gap — or in other words, it takes 61 days for a woman to earn the same as a man.

Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) director Mary Wooldridge said that at the current pay gap, on average, for every six years men work, women will need to work seven to be on par with their earnings.

“Equal Pay Day is a symbolic recognition that women’s potential is not being fully realised or valued and an important reminder that women continue to face significant barriers in the workplace,” Ms Wooldridge said.

“While nearly two months’ difference is too long, the real gender pay gap is even greater. This traditional calculation is based on the ABS’ ordinary full-time average weekly earnings.

“If we include average weekly earnings data on earnings for all hours worked, including overtime and part-time work, the pay gap more than doubles to 31.3 per cent.”

Ms Stewart was also quick to point out that the days are moving in the wrong direction.

“Last year, women would have had to work an extra 59 days, and two years ago it was 58 days,” she said.

“It’s deeply concerning that despite the heavy focus on this issue in recent years, the gap is getting wider.

“We can no longer afford to just tinker around the edges. Real, lasting structural change is the only way we will address gender inequity now and for generations to come.”

Structural reforms required as women retire in poverty
Structural reforms required as women retire in poverty
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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

author image
Cameron Micallef

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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