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Good Shepherd Australia Microfinance Matters

International Women's Day 2016 calls for people and organisations to make a 'Pledge for Parity'. Our pledge is to work for the economic wellbeing of people with low incomes, especially women and girls.

For this edition of Microfinance Matters we asked women leaders in our community for their thoughts on gender equality. The focus of their responses varied from financial and professional equality, to challenges facing women in Australia and abroad.

We’ve also included the stories of two mothers, Dianne and Jaymee, who have overcome financial hurdles to provide safe and loving homes for their children.

ARTICLES FROM: Christine Nixon APM, Sister Monica Walsh, Michaela Healey from NAB, The Trading Circle's Bindi Lea, Lisa Harrison from Suncorp, and Amanda Westcott from ASIC. 

Women vulnerable to high cost credit
Gender inequality for women starts early and follows them for their entire lives. Girls receive 11% less pocket money than boys, women earn 19% less and retire with just over half the superannuation of men.
Now research shows a surge in the number of women turning to high cost payday loans, suggesting a growing number of women are being excluded from the financial mainstream.

Read more from Christine Nixon APM, Chair, Good Shepherd Microfinance

Access to fair and affordable finance
The recent NAB Wellbeing Index found that an astounding 40 per cent of Australians feel highly anxious – with young women the most affected. Young women typically report the highest levels of anxiety of any group surveyed and report wellbeing at levels significantly lower than the general population.

Drilling down into the “why?” the survey provides insight into the reasons for the low levels of wellbeing reported by young women.

Read more from Michaela Healey, a Group Executive at the National Australia Bank
Enabling Dianne single, mum and carer
“I’ve got an old Hyundai Excel – it’s done about 280,000 kilometres and it’s probably seen better days. The air conditioner doesn’t work ... we try and make our trips early morning or later in the evening during summer because the middle of the day it’s quite warm.”
But with the budgeting habits Dianne formed by while repaying her NILS loans, “another car is definitely on the cards." 

Empowering women in developing countries
My position at The Trading Circle as National Manager means that I am in communication weekly with the women that we help to empower in developing countries. It was an amazing moment when I was able to move beyond the emails and visit one of our centres, the Fatima Centre, in Bangkok, Thailand.

It was in the nursery that I met one particular teenage girl, around the age of 16. She was playing with the babies and helping out. She looked content and was enjoying spending her time there. I asked the Sister about her. 

Read more from Bindi Lea, National Manager, The Trading Circle

Building an inclusive culture
Suncorp is passionate about increasing the diversity of our workforce and building an inclusive culture, where people feel involved, respected, valued, connected and able to bring their ‘authentic’ selves to work.

By building a culture within our business that values differences, and supports inclusiveness and parity, our people can perform at their best. This in turn drives innovation, collaboration and exceptional customer experiences that create value for our customers. We also know it leads to better business performance. 

Read more from Lisa Harrison, Executive General Manager of Insurance Operations within Suncorp Group.
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I’m in my own house now with Michael, he brings me so much joy! And now I’m going back to school next year. I’m feeling positive about the future."
A NILS loan enabled young mum Jaymee to furnish her new home.
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Gender parity and the Good Shepherd Sisters
Gender parity or gender equity is central to the mission of Good Shepherd Sisters.  Although our founder, St Mary Euphrasia, lived in the early 19th Century within a patriarchal church and society and without an understanding of gender justice as we know it, her words & writings show a woman grounded in teachings of equal respect for women and men.

Read more from Sister Monica Walsh, acting Provence Leader, Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand

The Women’s Money Toolkit

Research shows that many women are the family's key money manager and often have to deal with a range of specific financial challenges. In response to these challenges - as a result of variable workforce participation, longer life expectancy and lower average superannuation balances – we developed the Women's Money Toolkit.

This year we will be adding new resources to the toolkit, including practical money guidance for women experiencing separation or divorce.

Read more from ASIC's Amanda Westcott, Senior Manager, Financial Literacy

What would a new car mean to you?
Good Shepherd Microfinance and NAB asked StepUP Loan applicants how a new car would change their lives, then gave one lucky applicant a brand new Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport.
Fiona was recently diagnosed with multiple-sclerosis. For her, a new car with power steering meant independence.

Fresh focus on inclusive finance
Late last year, we considered the environment for inclusive finance and reviewed our strategic priorities, seeing several new opportunities. We’ve taken time to establish five new executive roles that will enable us to positively reach more people than ever before and seize these new opportunities.
We’ve also farewelled and celebrated the contributions of two women who have significantly advanced financial inclusion in Australia. Michelle Crawford has finished in her role as Deputy CEO, and Catherine Richards finished in the role of General Manager - Corporate Services.

Read more from Adam Mooney, CEO, Good Shepherd Microfinance.
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It's been a privilege to work alongside partners from community, government and business.  We each play part in working toward justice and dignity for everyone. 
Michelle Crawford reflects on her time at Good Shepherd Microfinance.
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