International Women’s Day 2022 – A reflection on women’s achievements over the past year
For me, International Women's Day is a day of self-reflection. It is a day to acknowledge the progression of women’s achievements over the course of the year, both the wins and the losses.
Among the highlights of 2021 was seeing Irish sportsperson, Rachel Blackmore, become the first female jockey to win the Aintree Grand National in its 182-year history. Blackmore also became the first woman to be a leading jockey at the Cheltenham festival. Irish golfer, Leona Maguire, played a significant role in the 2021 Solheim Cup victory and has recently won her first LPGA competition. Ladies GAA has experienced a welcome boost to its national profile. The Level the Playing Field campaign aims, through sponsorship, to encourage more girls and women to participate in GAA. Such investment in women's sport has seen promising results, with multiple attendance records broken. Women’s rugby and hockey have also seen an increase in audience numbers, with Irish teams competing in the Six Nations and Olympics respectively.
Not only in the world of sport are advancements being made. Women are increasingly achieving prominence in political and business environments. In an encouraging sign for the future, a 2021 CSO Survey indicates that the number of women in senior positions is increasing with 30% of Senior Executives now female. The pandemic was a shock which has forever changed the way we work. Hybrid and more flexible working arrangements have provided opportunities for women both to enter and to remain in the workforce, increasing their financial security and confidence.
While there have been “wins”, there have also been “losses”. Domestic abuse is still on the rise in Ireland, with a 10% increase in reported incidents in 2021 from 2020 (An Garda Siochana, 2021). Internationally, women’s rights in many countries are being repressed, most notably in Afghanistan where girls and women have been refused basic rights in the past year with the fall of that nation to the Taliban.
Even in Ireland, women find it difficult to secure financial stability while working and in their retirement years. Despite female pension ownership showing positive momentum, it still lags behind men’s overall (45% versus 55%) (Standard Life: Bringing retirement into focus:2021). Only 29% of women in Ireland are on track with their retirement savings. (Irish Life survey: September 2020). The survey indicates that 50% of women do not have the necessary information needed for pension success. Apart from affordability, one reason why women may be less knowledgeable about pensions are the low levels of participation in financial reviews. Of those surveyed, 66% of women have never had a financial review compared to 46% of men. Auto enrolment (to be automatically included in a pension arrangement) is a possible solution to deal with future pension planning. The government has yet to put a concrete plan in place to tackle this impending issue which will affect future generations as the population continues to grow.
So where do we go from here and what can we all do in the lead up to International Women’s Day? Think about your own future, engage with your employer about your pension and talk to an advisor about your monetary goals so that you can achieve financial stability. It is never too late to start planning and some simple changes now can benefit your future finances and bring you peace of mind. Ireland’s tax relief on pension contributions is very favourable yet many people remain unaware of the available incentives.
Ten years from now, as we reflect on past achievements on International Women’s Day, let us hope the statistics will have improved and we can reflect on and celebrate another “win”.
Manager – Wealth Management
Emma has over 20 years' experience in the financial services sector having worked in Willis and Deloitte prior to joining Invesco in 2001. Emma has responsibility for the delivery of our pension scheme administration and consultancy services to our Small Self- Administered clients as well as managing the Wealth Management operations for both our Cork and Dublin offices.