On Wednesday 8th March, the world celebrated International Women's Day. The theme calls us to embrace equity, where we fight for a more equitable world, whether in politics, business, or personal relations. A day that’s been celebrated for 47 years since the United Nations General Assembly, it provides an ample opportunity to acknowledge women’s achievements. But there are still barriers within this agenda alone. And one of those is women’s financial independence.
Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room: Across the world, women are in the lowest-paid work. Globally, they earn 24% less than men and at the current rate of progress, it will take 257 years to close the financial gender gap. Women also take on the double burden of work and unpaid childcare – taking on twice as much of it as men and sometimes 10 times as much, and which sits at an estimated value of at least $10.8 trillion – more than three times the size of the global tech industry. These figures just scratch at the surface, when we start to realise the compounding effect of women’s lacking place in the financial world.
Social and cultural barriers for women
Women having economic gender equality with their male counterparts is reliant on a crucial resource: financial education. The sad part is that women already have less financial knowledge and lower access to formal financial products than men. And it’s this need for additional financial literacy which is currently holding women back.
How can we achieve financial equality when women are excluded from resources to help them achieve it? Many women are fighting to make ends meat, saving and choosing financial products. What’s more, is that the financial resources that are available are geared towards men. They’re jargon heavy, full of unhelpful acronyms and when women have less time on their hands, improving their finances is more of a hindrance than a protective measure. It’s no wonder that women are retiring with with significantly less than men.
The underrepresentation crisis
Women are underrepresented at all levels of the global financial system, from depositors and borrowers to bank board members and regulators. And in the financial services industry alone, women hold 21% of board seats, 19% of C-suite roles, and 5% of CEO positions in 2021. But we’re not just talking about women working in finance, but women engaging with it and building the financial freedom they deserve from it.
The 2022 Own Your Worth report by UBS provides some potential insight on this. With the pandemic helping to re-shift women’s priorities, 90% of the women surveyed view money as a tool that can be used to help achieve their purpose in life. Yet while this was the case, with saving for unexpected life events listed as one of the top financial priorities, just 6% have invested in stocks and shares. That's a huge loss when research shows that women do invest, their returns outperform mens!
Information is power.
The confidence gap
Women are often seen as less confident and knowledgeable when it comes to investing, especially compared to men. BNY Mellon revealed that only one in 10 women globally felt they fully understood investing, and the same study showed that 28% of women felt confident about investing their money. It’s therefore no surprise that 45% of women viewed the stock market as too risky for them. So this really goes to show that women aren’t not interested, or that they’re bad at investing. Because research actually reveals something pretty empowering – that when women do invest, their returns outperform that of their male counterparts.
This is exactly why women need to make sure their money is working for them - women notoriously live longer than men, so ensuring their funds are well-stocked is paramount. Knowledge is the most powerful tool women have when it comes to investing. By taking the time to educate themselves on the basics of investment practices, women can arm themselves with confidence about their financial future.
Embracing equity in finance
While International Women’s Day is an opportunity to reflect on all sorts of gender inequality and progress that we’ve made, there’s a reason we need to put the magnifying glass on women in finance. And that’s because money is the root to empowerment in other spheres of life. It is the freedom to make choices, the freedom to live a life on your terms. It equips women with a sense of empowerment to make the choices that align with them. But it all starts with empowering women to learn the ropes first: through financial learning and community.
Information is power
So, how close are we to achieving gender equality in the world of finance and money? The truth is, we’re still quite some way away. But with more women taking control of their future, the future is bright, and it’s up to us to make it happen. That’s why we’re mobilising the next generation of women to build up their confidence. The surge of women seeking out financial education, the focus on companies like ours to deliver it, reveals the potential we have to make changes quickly when there’s a need. It’s time we apply that same sense of urgency to achieving gender equity in finance.
We firmly believe that financial freedom comes from knowing the ropes first. And by learning, trading, and connecting in one single universe, Female Invest welcomes anyone and everyone to join together in a safe space to access the resources they need to build a healthy and long-lasting financial future for themselves. We believe that’s what our community deserves, which is why we guide them through the entire process with confidence and ease.
Let’s use International Women’s Day to acknowledge that women have specific and additional financial literacy needs that need addressing if we want to close the financial gender gap. And allow us to be part of the puzzle on a mission to change that.