The coronavirus outbreak has unique financial implications for women. (UBS)

Women in caregiving roles

Women are more likely than men to perform unpaid childcare, the demand for which has increased as a result of school closures. Women globally perform 76.2% of total hours of unpaid care work, according to the International Labour Organization . There is also an escalated need for healthcare workers, 70% of whom are women.

This additional work leaves less time and energy for financial education and planning. According to UBS' Own Your Worth whitepaper , time constraints are a key reason “85% of married women [in the US] who are less involved in long-term finances prefer their husbands to take care of it.”

What are the consequences?

The Own Your Worth research found the less time women have, the less likely they are to actively participate in making key long-term financial decisions. If women, who may be adjusting to new work-from-home conditions, are the primary caregivers in their households, it may not be sustainable for them to keep working. According to Own Your Worth , many people think it makes sense for the breadwinner to take care of the finances. If women step out of the workforce to care for children, it’s possible more men will take over the financial responsibilities if they are the primary earner.

“Lack of financial involvement from women also affects men and future generations,” said Carey Shuffman, Head of the Women’s Strategic Client Segment at UBS. “It’s always really important to understand how various situations impact all of us in society. With coronavirus, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day news, but it’s critical that we take a step back and ask what the implications of this are on society, for both men and women.”

What can women do today to become more involved?

UBS surveyed hundreds of divorcees and widows, and 98% urged other women to become more involved early on. An unexpected pandemic that closes businesses, shuts down schools, and increases working hours for those in essential jobs exposes on a wider scale the consequences of leaving key financial decisions to someone else. Said Shuffman, “It’s important to be involved and aware so you can make smart choices for you and your family. If you want to achieve well-being in your life, your home, career, or community, it’s important to know how you’re going to accomplish your goals.”

For women looking to take an active role in their finances now, Shuffman suggests:

  • Assessing how your finances may have been impacted by the crisis while also recognizing it's never too late to get started in financial discussions and taking steps to do so, regardless of your prior level of involvement
  • Looking at your full financial picture and calculating what your net worth is
  • Taking a look at how your finances could be affected in worst-case scenarios, like a market drop of 20 percentage points or a layoff and developing a financial plan based on your goals and concerns
  • Talking openly about your financial situation with your partner or spouse, if you have one. If you have children, talk to them about money and teach them healthy financial habits, especially while they are home
  • Connecting with your trusted Financial Advisor

Main contributor: Kerry Breen