International Woman’s day, on March 8th, has officially been deemed a global day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women by the UN since 1975. But has been informally celebrated since the suffragette movement. As each IWD rolls around on this site I have celebrated some of the important women in my life, recommended incredible films and books written and directed by talented women, and shone some light on some of the disparities that still exist within a gender gap. This day is one of celebration but also a reminder of a history and a future in which there is still so much to change.
One of the big inequalities that women still face today is financial. There is a pay gender gap, a pension gender gap and an investment gender gap. The size of this gap changes from country to country and you can see studies into these differences by the Economist here. Even in developed countries there is a disparity. I think this mainly comes from deep rooted assumptions within our society and a lack of financial education for all people in schools. Female Invest is a company I stumbled upon last year and I was instantly intrigued by their mission. It is a company founded by three danish women who seek to address the investment gap through educational videos, webinars and discussions. This morning I attended a trial of their market updates as two of the co founders, Anna and Camille, had a discussion of the market and impacts on the economy during this turbulent time with war between Russia and Ukraine. Current affairs and politics are a massive influence on the market, topics that many people are not interested in but they provide quick summaries and discussions upon its impact. They frequently run free Introduction to Investing events if you are interested in getting started with investing. It’s exciting to see so many people endeavouring to close the gap through education. They are also currently developing a trading platform aiming to cut through the jargon and create an accessible environment for all people to invest that will be launched in the next year or so. Edtech companies like this are providing people with the knowledge, and confidence, to take charge of their finances and break through the jargon. There are also Podcast’s such as GirlsthatInvest that are addressing the issue by providing spaces for discussions about money, a topic that many people see as taboo.
When most people think of investing, they think of Leonardo DiCaprio in Wolf of Wall Street or of pompous men in suits with briefcases; this thinking needs to change. Our society is built on what we value and how much we value it, and investment is one of the most influential ways we show our value of businesses and the way that many grow their wealth. But more men than women invest. According to HSBC only 2.4 million of their 11 million investing customers are women and just 23% of female adults in the UK hold an investment product, compared with 35% of men (Shares magazine). In a similar figure from Bph Wealth just 1 in 5 women in the UK hold an investment product compared with 1 in 3 men. Financial independence is key in gaining more freedom in the western world, something that is often achieved through investment and wealth accumulation but with few female investors women on average have less wealth than men and women-owned businesses are getting left behind.
You can read more of my article on How an Investment Gap is Perpetuating Gender Inequality here.
Here are some recommendations of brilliant works by women that I have read, watched and enjoyed…
Book: The Woman Warrior By Maxine Hong Kingston. We read this as part of my Girl in the Book module at University and to be honest it wasn’t a big hit in my seminar group. Many of my classmates found it confusing with narrative cuts that they felt didn’t really intertwine – something that they thought Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges are not the Only Fruit did much better. I wondered if that is something to do with the cultural differences though. Many people could relate to the religious plot of Oranges and the narrative interruptions were with stories very familiar to us in Britain such as the Arthurian Legend. In comparison the stories that interrupted the plot in Woman Warrior were whole chapters, fully told for a wider audience that probably wouldn’t have heard them before. I liked this aspect, however, and found it very compelling and her writing style so fantastical yet real at the same time. To me, Kingston addressed the fantastical reality of cultures really well. I liked that it was about the nature of truth and fiction where Winterson didn’t stress this part as much in presenting a semi-autobiographical reality but without the questions.
Series: Mrs America – a great series about the ratification of the equal rights amendment in the US. It’s directed mainly by women with an incredible cast including Cate Blanchett and Sarah Poulson.
Film: Zero Dark Thirty (2012) Directed by Oscar winner, Katherine Bigelow and starring Jessica Chastain. This is one of my favourite films. It’s set after 9/11 as a group of CIA operatives hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. It’s tense, it’s compelling and has complex characters at the heart of a difficult subject matter. Bigelow won Best Director (the first woman to do so) for Hurt Locker.
With Russia continuing its ruthless attack on Ukraine the world is reminded of the bravery of Ukrainian people including its women https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/ukraines-women-showing-world-real-bravery-looks-like/
Also check out this Hub created for International Women’s Day showcasing women’s stories from around the world – https://www.economist.com/international-womens-day