Select Page

Women and finances in Namibia

Women and finances in Namibia

By Mignon du Preez
OM Group Marketing, Public Affairs and Sustainability Executive.

Windhoek, 11 March 2024 – As we celebrated International Women’s Day on 8 March 2024, a global day of celebrating the socio-economic achievements of women, while honouring their valuable contributions to society, it is important to reflect on how far we have come. One aspect that remains important to note is that we still have a long way to go to foster financial inclusivity as revealed by the Old Mutual Financial Services Monitor in 2023.

Women tend to earn less

Globally women tend to earn less than their male counterparts and the position is no different in Namibia. Whilst age and income are positively correlated (i.e. income increases with age) the rate of growth is significantly lower for women.

Dependency burden shared

The burden of supporting dependent children and adult dependents is shared, with men taking up a bit more of the slack overall (older, higher-earning men in particular). 65% of men fall into the Sandwich generation (i.e. support both dependent children and adult dependents) compared to 57% of women. What is notable though is the burden borne by single mothers where 76% are Sandwich generation. It is important to note that single motherhood is self-defined and does not mean paternal support is absent – the majority of single mothers do receive financial support from the father of their children, although only 18% receive this regularly, according to the study.

The entrepreneurial landscape is male-dominated

37% of men have a side hustle or freelance job in addition to their main job, compared to only 23% of women. Only 13% of women aged 18 – 29 years have side hustles as compared to 41% of young men. A similar pattern occurs about own business (37% of men vs 22% of women). Many of the women in our working sample gravitate to public sector roles in education and healthcare (teachers, nurses, etc.). This accounts for the relatively higher incidence of employee benefits (pension funds, medical aid) seen in the female sub-sample.

Lower confidence in the Namibian economy

Namibian women have a particularly dim view of the Namibian economy with only 19% agreeing that they have confidence in the economy (vs 30% of men).

Savings objectives shift with life stages. Men and women have similar savings goals: emergency buffer, children’s education, and their family’s future dominate. However, within age groups, we see differences with younger women (18 – 29 years) focusing on saving for their education and older women (50+ years) prioritizing retirement savings. Saving for children’s education is particularly important to single moms (43% vs 33% for women generally).

Women in danger of neglecting retirement savings

Evidence suggests that women are leaving it too late to start saving for their retirement. Only 39% say that they have started saving for their retirement (vs 53% of men). Even among older women (50+ years) where 52% have started saving for their retirement, this is still significantly below the 75% reported for men aged 50+ years.

Some 38% agree that they avoid thinking about old age and retirement and a further 68% agree that their children should look after them financially when they are old. Among those women who are pension fund members, the data suggests that they are less engaged: only 22% know the approximate value of their retirement savings compared to 34% of male fund members.

Women generally are less confident in the adequacy of their retirement savings (single mothers are lower earners in particular).

Lower risk appetite can have a downside

Women exhibit a lower appetite for taking on investment risk. Some 40% are not prepared to take on any investment risk at all (versus 33% of men). Younger women are more prepared to take on risk, but still a third are unwilling to take on any risk, in stark contrast to younger men where only 19% are risk averse. This attitude can be problematic in an inflationary environment where savings kept in cash or low-interest-bearing bank accounts end up being slowly eroded by inflation.

Financial Satisfaction and Confidence in Financial Decision making are interlinked

Women generally have lower levels of financial satisfaction (mean score out of 10 is 6.1 vs 6.3 for men) and lower confidence levels when it comes to making good savings and investment decisions (6.8 vs 7 for men). Income levels do of course play a part in this (the correlation of income with satisfaction and confidence is stronger than with gender) but what it does highlight is the need for women to empower themselves through financial education.


About The Author

Guest Contributor

A Guest Contributor is any of a number of experts who contribute articles and columns under their own respective names. They are regarded as authorities in their disciplines, and their work is usually published with limited editing only. They may also contribute to other publications. - Ed.