Women and unpaid work: Four ways they can protect their financial future

Women should consider different financial measure to protect themselves and their families. Picture: Freepik

Women should consider different financial measure to protect themselves and their families. Picture: Freepik

Published Aug 22, 2023


One of the major factors that has left South African women struggling to achieve financial freedom is the burden of unpaid work.

Nonzaliseko Phamane, Senior Technology Leader at Metropolitan said that unpaid work is defined as labour that does not involve any direct remuneration and generally encompasses household duties such as cooking, cleaning, childcare, food and water collection.

"Women’s unpaid work subsidises the cost of care that sustains families, supports economies, and often fills in for the lack of social services. Yet, it is rarely recognised as work."

According to Phamane, unpaid work has a huge impact on the literacy and, ultimately, employment levels of women in South Africa, as female unemployment currently sits at 33%.

Phamane says that there’s no doubt that being financially independent offers more freedom of choice. However, women who are doing unpaid work cannot advocate for themselves financially.

Women need to have open and honest conversations with their partners about the roles that they both play within the family so they can support each other in reaching their financial goals.

If a woman is in a relationship or situation where she is doing ‘unpaid work’ while her partner earns the bulk of the income, she needs to take measures to survive and take care of her family should something happen to the breadwinner.

Here are four things women should consider to protect their financial futures and the futures of their loved ones.

Funeral cover

Should the breadwinner pass away, funeral cover will ensure that there is money for the burial. Ester Ochse, Product Head, FNB Integrated Advice, said that funeral cover can take care of the expenses associated with the funeral, such as a coffin, transport, and catering.

Life cover

Should the breadwinner pass away, will there be money to take care of household expenses such as rent or school fees.

According to Thembisa Mapukata, general manager: Tied Distribution at Old Mutual Mass and Foundation Cluster, life cover will take care of any outstanding debts and important purchases that the family may need to make in the future, as well as assist the family with an income for a period.

Critical Illness and disability cover

Phamane said that this cover will provide for the care of a loved one should they fall ill or become disabled and lose their ability to earn an income.

Have a will

Ensure that you or you and your partner have a will in place to clear up uncertainty and speed up the process of wrapping up an estate after a breadwinner passes away.

IOL Business