Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Look after the Pennies

I have not been that happy with my normally wonderful Woman's Hour podcast recently, but in the last week I've heard a couple of great pieces. One was on Trevor Sorbie's initiative to train hairdressers how to cut wigs for those who've lost their hair after chemo, called My New Hair. If I hadn't been walking to work I think I'd have sobbed a bit, listening to this.

However, the other thing I heard was a fantastic piece on women & saving. The Fawcett Society has uncovered some extremely disturbing trends about women and their financial habits. The savings gap is, according to the research, at 33% even bigger between men and women than the pay gap (17%).

What is particularly disturbing about this is well... well, there are many things. However, a very worrying trend is that young men & women start off saving similarly in their twenties, yet when "big life events" come across a woman's path, such as having a baby, getting married, buying a house - she tends to stop saving.

Given that men continue to save, I think this really does say a lot on how women (and men) view themselves and their roles. Namely, that a good mother will spend her money on her children, and not spend any excess cash on herself - not even through saving, which is safeguarding her future, and that of her children. Whereas men can be good fathers while still taking care of themselves. Because if they don't take care of themselves, who will? Whereas women continue to rely upon men to provide for them. Hence for all our progress in the West, which is substantial, there is this continuity and link with the women I met in Malawi who were afraid to rock the boat for fear of losing their income and wellbeing. These things keep linking up in my head and show me just how far we all have to go.

UPDATE: July 5th - this article in the guardian sort of sums up lots of what I was saying...

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