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Sydney Women’s Fund Portrait Research Launch 2021

Sydney Women's Fund Launches Latest Research 'A Portrait of Sydney Women 2021'

1 December 2021: At NSW Parliament House with The Hon Bronwyn Taylor MLC, NSW Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women.

Sydney Women's Fund Portrait Research 2021 Launch speakers; Georgina Byron AM, Mona Mahamed, Angelica Ojinnaka, Prof Nareen Young, Sophie McCarthy, Jane Jose, Joanna Ryan in the Preston Stanley Room NSW Parliament House. 

Why take the pulse of Sydney women?

Welcome speech by Jane Jose
CEO Sydney Community Foundation's Sydney Women's Fund. 

The Portrait Research Series by Sydney Women’s Fund is our most important research Project. It gives us the evidence to shape and direct the programs we fund to assist women in Greater Sydney.

So why take the pulse of Sydney Women?

In 2012 Sydney Women’s Fund released the first research report titled: A Portrait of Sydney Women 2021 showing the disadvantage experienced by women and girls at the time.

It shone a light on the lack of support for women in Western Sydney where too many were struggling.

Our latest Portrait of Sydney Women 2021 Research shows that since that time women right across Sydney have become financially vulnerable and 87%, up from 82% three years ago, are finding it tougher to live in “the corner of the city” they love, than they did 10 years ago.

In 2018, Sydney Women’s Fund decided to take the pulse of Sydney Women, looking at their hopes, fears and dreams. To create a picture of what life in this city is really like for women.

We were bold and surveyed women as young as 18 and as mature as 75 this year extending that to 80-year-old women to gain a rich, full picture of how life is for the women of Sydney.

Dr. Rebecca Huntley, leading Australian Social Researcher, undertook the independent research.

Jane Jose, CEO Sydney Community Foundation's Sydney Women's Fund 

Using 2018 as a baseline, when we found ourselves in lockdown this year, we added questions about the impact of the pandemic, enabling us to learn more about the impact on women of flexible work opportunities. There are valuable findings to encourage employers to design in the secure flexibility women want.

The survey happened during the lockdown this year in June/July 2021. Funded by women philanthropists it tells the story of women’s lives during the pandemic that none of us expected three years ago. The survey maps change – both positive and negative, for women against a baseline.

The 2021 research tells us that Sydney life for women means more to manage, more expenses, more worries, more decisions and yet more to love. The Survey of 1,030 women and qualitative interviews benchmarks 2018 – 2021.

It is alarming to read that woman are more fearful for the mental and physical health than of Covid 19.

54% worry about their health and 44% say they feel overwhelmed by life and its demands as women in Sydney and yet overall 72% still feel optimistic about the future.

A challenge for government, business, and indeed all of us, is how to address Sydney becoming a tough city for younger women with dependent children to live in. Women in the survey told us 51% are struggling and 55% are experiencing housing stress.

Yet these younger women want more work and more flexible work, though this is less accessible to struggling women.

Encouraging is the finding that 93 % are looking after the household budget, proving women have the capacity and now we need to focus on their lifetime budget.

Dr Huntley says the research has confirmed the divide between those enjoying life (56%) and those who struggle (44%) to make ends meet.

But it is not an East west ‘Latte Line divide’ as sometimes reported in the media – women across Sydney say they are struggling.

Good news is that for some 5% – there’s an improvement in finances and more younger women saving for super.

The other shock finding is that many older women who have lived their lives in Sydney working and raising families – 53% of women say they face not having a comfortable retirement in Sydney unless they have partner.

The research shows cost of living means single women may be forced to leave behind family and friends to live somewhere else in retirement and women with dependent children may be forced into moving to a place with a lower cost of living.
In short women may have fewer choices.

Sydney needs to attract young women from Regional NSW to to choose to come to work, contribute and enjoy what Greater Sydney offers.

Sydney women’s lack of financial independence and choice is a growing challenge in a city where most women are worried about maintaining enough income to live on (61%).

Our work in developing Women’s Work, an interactive educational program to help to improve Women’s Financial Wellness is a resource to assist young girls and women to change their relationship with money so they can manage money better over a lifetime.

The creative online learning program is suited to broad audiences to improve their Financial wellbeing. We are grateful to funding from the NSW Government Communities Grant.

We are keen to distribute the research and encourage employers to use this online learning tool. We are keen to continue working with NSW government to make this widely available to upper secondary school students and their parents.

We will continue working in the not for profit sector who are on the frontline assisting those needing to rebuild lives.

As we reshape life in the pandemic, Our Portrait of Sydney Women research has wide ranging relevance on how Sydney can rethink city life, support flexible work that’s better for women and families and taps into the full talents of women.

Sydney needs to respond to the inequality for women who carry the overwhelming burden of managing the household finances (93%) earning half the income (50%) and playing the key role as carer (41%).

I wish to thank Dr. Rebecca Huntley and her team for this deep research and their analysis. I’d also like to thank Daisy and Lucy Turnbull for support from the Turnbull Foundation, Georgina Byron from The Snow Foundation and Deanne Weir and Weir Anderson Foundation. With long term support from Dermalogica Sydney Women’s Fund has been able to develop a deep advocacy and fundraising program for the women of Sydney who are often voiceless.

This work underpins the policy framework of Sydney Women Fund and the Be Kind Sydney fundraising focus to directly address areas of need for struggling women and families in Sydney, changing women and families lives one by one.



Dr Rebecca Huntley presentation
Author Sydney Women's Fund 'Portrait of Sydney Women 2021' Research Report

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