International Women’s Day is a global celebration of women which occurs on 8 March every year. While women continue to make progress on gender parity, this year’s theme of #PressforProgress indicates there is still lots to be done. Women face a range of specific financial risks stemming from gender related issues – the gender pay gap, the roles they are expected to play in families and society, and how they perceive themselves. The Chartered Insurance Institute in the UK recently released a report which considers women’s financial risks. The report sets out six “moments that matter” for young women: growing up, studying and re-qualifying; entering and re-entering the workplace; relationships (making and breaking); motherhood and becoming a carer; later life, planning and entering retirement; ill health, infirmity and dying. Each one of these key life stages presents risks for women.
Factors such as the gender pay gap and career breaks while parenting mean it takes women longer to save and to repay debt such as student loans and mortgages. The high rate of relationship breakdown is a key risk for women whose earnings and assets are low.
Women have a longer life expectancy than men. This means they need a higher level of retirement savings and are more likely to spend time living alone in retirement, yet it is hard for them to save. All through life, women can find themselves less able to withstand crises such as health events, redundancy or relationship breakdown as their savings are lower.
While pay parity would go a long way towards reducing these risks for women, it is also important to increase awareness in young women of the financial implications of their career and education choices, to provide them with support through motherhood and offer them information and advice about planning for retirement.