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Are you hoping the Government will be your retirement knight in shining armour?

It seems that another wind of change is coming with regards to the equality of women, globally and at home. The rights of women, the safety of women and the equity of women is on the agenda.

The #metoo movement, which was a response to high profile US celebrities sexual misconduct, started the momentum. Now we are all talking about the treatment of women in politics.

Those who ague that women have more equality than ever before, especially in a western, secular country like Australia, have got blinkers on. Yes, there have been improvements in my lifetime - but real equality is not the outcome of those improvements.

We are faced with a Coalition Government with such low female representation that it is tokenistic and beyond pathetic. I know that talking politics is on the nose for a lot of people, and that the wind in Canberra usually stinks to many ... however, policies and laws created by a Government which appears patriarchal and white male privileged do affects us.

Retirement and superannuation are on the agenda for the Labor Opposition. The changes they are proposing to maternity leave and to superannuation are a step in the right direction. Bill Shorten said this week that "When we treat women equally to men we will be the most prosperous nation in the world."

However, the policy might be stepping in the right direction, but it's not racing there. There is a long way to go ... and there is one very important group of women who keeps getting missed by both parties ... Women over 50.

It is well known now that women over 50 are our biggest growing group experiencing homelessness. Women are sleeping rough, in their cars and on friends couches. Why?

It's due to the long term equity divide in employment, wages and superannuation, as well as divorce and spousal death. The ABC news late last year described it as the 'Tsunami' we should have seen coming.

One-in-three women in Australia retire with no superannuation. Women with superannuation retire with about $100,000 less than men. Women are also more likely to retire on their own because of divorce and spousal death. If they were counting on their husbands super to get them through their later years .. in many situations they can't.

So we know there are problems, and just to continue the cliche .. are you waiting for a knight in shining armour? If you are a woman over 50, I don't think Scomo or Bill are your knights right now. So who and what can you count on?

See I am a glass half full kind of person and I am feeling hopeful ... because we women are resilient beyond the system. We always have been. The other positive is that there are more and more men who do really understand and are standing as equals next to women.

Together we can find ways to support each other through the obvious inequalities while the system catches up. I am also feeling the momentum of women wanting to reach out and support other women.

We need to think outside the box about retirement, from accommodation, to the way we supplement our finances, superannuation and pensions after the age of 65. We also need to start planning for it sooner than later.

You see, women today are retiring more educated, healthy and have more expertise, wisdom and energy to share than ever before. Also, I am hearing more and more from women that they financially can't retire, and some really honestly don't want to retire.

I am meeting entrepreneurial women who started new ventures in their 50's and 60's who are full of life and going strong in their 70's. So is this the new model for retirement? A life on your terms, doing things that you are passionate about and getting paid for it?

I recently interviewed nine women as part of QLD Seniors Week called Zazzi Women Over 60. Of the women interviewed, seven of them were in their own business and two of them in their 70's.

As someone who has only recently started her own business, I am not professing this to be the easiest road, but the rewards are beyond anything I could have imagined. The women I interviewed would agree.

Six things you can do to save yourself

What can you do to become your own saviour in armour on a horse....(maybe I can drop that analogy now).

  1. Be clear about your values....Know your top 5 values, so that you can plan based on your highest values and needs.
  2. Don't let fear about money stop you from knowing what you have and what you need to do....Go to a Financial Advisor and/or Centrelink.
  3. Connect with other women who are like minded and who are re-inventing retirement, so that you have a support network that elevates you.
  4. If you feel like a victim of the system, get support to change that mindset. It will hold you back.
  5. Work out what you want your legacy or mission to be for your third act and how it may translate to a business. Take charge, start researching and get the support you need to make it happen.
  6. Be a Golden Girl .. By connecting with other likeminded women you can actively seek housemates, create a home where you can share each others company and expenses.

I believe that a revolution needs to happen, coming from women ... because the world needs what older women have to offer. Don't wait for the Government to save you ... Get together, elevate each other.

Head out there ladies, share your wisdom, your light and your feminine sunshine. You all inspire me.

Written by Maria Paterakis, host and women's counsellor, Retiring With Joy (TV).

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