The Women’s Rights Movement began in 1848 to enable women to have representation in decisions impacting their social, civil and religious rights.1
While Hillary Clinton, the first female presidential candidate from a major party, was not elected this year, women take their right to vote very seriously. In every presidential election since 1964 (2016 results not yet available), the number of women who voted exceeded that of men.2
Another area where women have made up ground, but are still working to pull even, is the wage difference between genders. This gap can also be a hindrance for women when it comes to saving for retirement. For example, while women are more likely than men to work for employers that offer retirement plans, far less are eligible to participate in those plans because they work part-time or for a shorter time span. As a result, nearly 12 percent of baby boomer women who have participated in the workforce end up retiring in poverty.3
From paying bills to participating in large-scale financial decisions, it is important for women to take an active role in their own retirement planning. One thing to consider may be setting up separate retirement income streams for each spouse to ensure household income is not significantly reduced should one spouse die or become incapacitated.
Self-employment is one area that might seem free of glass ceilings, but new research reveals a lack of capital funding available for women. Reasons cited for this include not having enough collateral necessary to secure a loan, gender discrimination or simply that women tend to be more risk averse when it comes to borrowing large sums of money.4
In a recent speech, Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, pointed out that if women participated in the U.S. labor force to the same extent as men, our national income could increase by 5 percent.5
Lagarde also gave an example of women breaking the glass ceiling, but ultimately not achieving complete parity. Iceland elected its first female president back in 1980, but women’s wages there still trail men’s by 14 to 18 percent. Interestingly, Icelandic working women recently protested lower wages with a job walk-out at precisely 2:38 p.m. — the time of day when they stop being paid (relative to men’s pay).6
The Women’s Rights Movement is now about 168 years old. According to the IMF, at the current rate of progression globally, women should achieve parity with men’s wages in another 170 years7 — so we’re almost halfway there. Baby steps.
1 Bonnie Eisenberg and Mary Ruthsdotter. National Women’s History Project. “History of the Women’s Rights Movement.” http://www.nwhp.org/resources/womens-rights-movement/history-of-the-womens-rights-movement/. Accessed Nov. 29, 2016.
2 Center for American Women and Politics. “Gender Differences in Voter Turnout.” http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/sites/default/files/resources/genderdiff.pdf. Accessed Nov. 29, 2016.
3 Jennifer Erin Brown, Nari Rhee, Joelle Saad-Lessler and Diane Oakley. UC Berkeley Labor Center. March 1, 2016. “Shortchanged in Retirement: Continuing Challenges to Women’s Financial Future.” http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/shortchanged-in-retirement-continuing-challenges-to-womens-financial-future/. Accessed Nov. 29, 2016.
4 Robert M. Sauer. World Economic Forum. Sept. 28, 2016. “The self-employed glass ceiling isn’t getting the attention it deserves.” https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/09/the-self-employed-glass-ceiling-isnt-getting-the-attention-it-deserves. Accessed Nov. 29, 2016.
5 Christine Lagarde. The International Monetary Fund. Nov. 14, 2016. “Women’s Empowerment: An Economic Game Changer.” https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2016/11/14/SP111416-Womens-Empowerment-An-Economic-Game-Changer. Accessed Nov. 14, 2016.
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