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Monday, 20 April 2009 00:45

Most South African Women "Financially Independent"

CHINA, March 3 (Xinhua) - Nearly seventy percent of South African women consider themselves financially independent, results of a Synovate global survey released on Thursday found.

"South African women emerged as one of the most emphatically independent, (69 percent), together with French women (80 percent) and British women (76 percent) who consider themselves financially autonomous," said the survey company in a statement.

Women in Bulgaria were the least confident in their financial independence, 37 percent, followed by Indonesia at 47 percent.

The survey looked at what role women play in household finances and whether they feel in control of their own cash. The survey also looked at attitudes of whether women are better with money than men.

About 4,500 women from 12 countries including Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States took part in the survey, the South African Press Association (SAPA) reported.

For some questions about 4,500 men were also interviewed. Overall, when it came to South Africa, the survey found that our relatively new democracy, was filled with self-sufficient woman.

"Seven in ten women said they were financially independent, even more than in the majority of the developed markets that were surveyed."

Synovate South Africa's director for financial services, Debbie Amm, said: "This is partly because the women we spoke with were largely urban, but there are greater cultural and historical explanations at hand too.

"Since South Africa became a democracy there has been a very strong and very public focus on gender equality, providing opportunities for women to advance careers or simply to start one, SAPA said.

"Equally, in both black and white histories, there has always been a need for women to be able to look after themselves and their families. South Africa can be a tough place, so this need for self-sufficiency has given rise to a highly entrepreneurial mindset among the women of the nation," she said.

Most South African woman, 43 percent, defined financial independence as not being dependent on their husbands or partners for money. Nevertheless, 62 percent of South African men and 56 percent of South African woman agreed that men should be responsible for household payments and mortgages.

"In South Africa 56 percent of men believe that it is their responsibility to look after the family, whereas a lower 41 percent of women agree."

Nearly three quarters of South African woman believe making their own budget will contribute to financial independence, while 61 percent believe that this will come from setting financial goals for themselves. Also, in South Africa, 73 percent of woman believed that women spend more money than men and 71 percent of South African men surveyed agreed with the women about this.

The global average was 47 percent of women and 56 percent of men, who answered this question in the same way.

Ninety five percent of South African woman said they believed it was important to know about products and services offered by banks and insurance companies. This was the highest percentage globally, followed by the U.S. and Canada at 91 percent.

When it came to credit card use, 40 percent of South African woman used monthly income to pay off credit card bills, while 82 percent agreed that having more than one card could lead to serious debt.

Synovate's senior vice president of financial services in the U.S., Claire Braverman said the topic of women and their finances was ripe to be researched.

"A woman meets a man, falls in love, moves in, gets married, has kids (not necessarily in that order) and it all falls apart. It's not until this moment that she realizes just how dependent she is on her partner's money.

"Some women have checks in place to guard against this happening to them; some don't. Some are financially savvy, and some are simply not interested.

"And even if a relationship break up is not a catalyst, women live longer than men and typically have less money upon retirement.

"All this adds up to an urgent need for financial services companies to understand women and cater to their specific needs and the situations in which they are likely to find themselves, planned or unplanned," she said.

Braverman also said that it was not that long ago that there had been a mass entry of woman into the work force.

To varying degrees, gender equality remained an issue around the world.

"Yet the survey found that nearly six in ten women across 12 diverse countries believe themselves to be financially independent. That's certainly encouraging."



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