Celebrating International Women's Day: Empowering Women to Take Control of Their Finances
Today is International Women's Day. Yay women! If I’m being totally transparent, I don’t typically celebrate this day. To a busy mom like myself, it’s just another Wednesday. I always find myself feeling slightly guilty about not really caring. After all, I am a woman who also happens to have two daughters. I should be proud to celebrate my gender and all that we’ve accomplished. At the very least I should know a little bit about the history behind it, so I did a little digging and thought I’d share. As you may know, this day was created to celebrate the achievements of women all around the globe and to advocate for women’s rights. The reason international women’s day is celebrated on March 8th is because of two significant events. On March 8, 1857, female workers in New York City organized one of the first strikes by working women. Also, on this day in 1908, women workers in New York marched to protest child labor, sweatshop working conditions, and demanded women’s suffrage.
This is a day to recognize how far we’ve come, but also to acknowledge how far we still have to go. For example, did you know that 42% of US working women have faced gender discrimination? There is a lack of employment equality too. Women are paid less, we are less likely to be promoted, and we are more likely to be sexually harassed. We are underrepresented in high-level, high-paying positions – think CEO’s, careers in STEM, and even finance! And that’s just at work. There is also uneven access to education in this country and we face violence, abuse, and unequal treatment at home.
According to a News Gallup poll from January 2020, even though women account for almost half of the US workforce, we still shoulder the responsibility of running the household. The survey, that was sent to heterosexual couples that are living together, found that women are more likely to clean the house in 51% of the households surveyed, compared to 9% of men being more likely. 51% of women were more likely to prepare meals (versus 17% of men being more likely), and 50% of women are more likely to take care of the children daily compared to 7% of men. Even when the wife makes more money than her husband, she is still more likely to take care of household chores and the family than is her counterpart. While this is frustrating on its own, the part that kills me is while we have no problem cleaning, cooking, and taking care of the kids, only 18% of women are likely to make decisions about savings or investments, whereas men are 31% more likely.
Women tend to let our partners control the family’s finances, but we need to be involved too. Since we make less, but live longer, we have to be able to save more in order to retire and live comfortably. And saving more is just the tip of the iceberg. Women investors tend to be more conservative and have less diversification in their portfolios than men, which often means lower returns. We need to learn to invest in the right products to make a return suitable to our risk profile. Women are also less knowledgeable about the benefits of life insurance and therefore are often underinsured. And since we live longer, we are more likely to need long term care.
There are more women enrolling and graduating from college than men, which often means more student loans. We end up having more debt while still not making as much money as men once we’re in the workforce. You would think that with more college graduates, women would make more money, but the gender pay gap still exists. While there are many reasons the pay gap isn’t going away, one of them is that women aren’t as confident at negotiating our salaries and we undervalue our professional worth. We have to learn to be assertive and know and state our true value.
In short, women do it all and we do it for less pay, less prestige, and less acknowledgement. We take care of everyone around us and often neglect ourselves in the process. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge, which encourages individuals to challenge gender bias and inequality in their daily lives. It’s about standing up for what’s right and creating a world where everyone, regardless of gender, has equal opportunities and rights. I don’t want to see gender inequality remain stagnant for my daughters. I want to see improvement and watch women thrive. I want to help women map out their financial goals and coach women on career negotiation tactics. It is my intent to empower women to take control and feel confident in their financial decisions. After all, lifting each other up and helping each other succeed is what this day is all about.
On this special day, it’s important to honor the women who have paved the way for us, and to continue working towards a more equitable future for all. Happy International Women’s Day!
To learn more about the author, Jennifer Jenkins, please click here. To schedule a consultation or to learn more about our services, Jen can be reached at Jennifer.Jenkins@bluestonewp.com.
 "International Women's Day: March 8, 2023." United States Census Bureau, 8 Mar. 2023, www.census.gov/newsroom/stories/international-womens-day.html.
 "Gender Discrimination Comes in Many Forms for Today's Working Women." Pew Research Center, 14 Dec. 2017, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/12/14/gender-discrimination-comes-in-many-forms-for-todays-working-women/. Accessed 7 Mar. 2023.
 Brenan, Megan. "Women Still Handle Main Household Tasks in U.S." News Gallup, 29 Jan. 2020, news.gallup.com/poll/283979/women-handle-main-household-tasks.aspx. Accessed 7 Mar. 2023.