A Journey to financial equality this International Women’s Day

Image of Ernestina Saarrah-Mensah

Ernestina Saarrah-Mensah
Scottish Widows

Hello there! I’m Ernestina, and welcome to the next blog in our series: “Helping you to be money well.”

On International Women's Day (IWD), this year's theme, 'Inspire Inclusion,' prompts us to reflect on the strides made in empowering and inspiring women in various realms such as education, career advancement, and leadership. While celebrating progress, it's crucial to recognize the ongoing need to address the unique challenges women encounter. One challenge close to my heart is financial empowerment. 

There are distinct financial hurdles women face, including the gender pay gap and career breaks for childcare responsibilities, resulting in lifetime earnings that often lag behind men's. Additionally, Scottish Widows' Women & Retirement report (PDF, 4MB) underscores a significant gender gap in retirement planning outcomes. Shockingly, 39% of women aren't on track for even a basic retirement, with even higher proportions for divorced women and single mothers, indicating that women's pension savings are substantially lower on average than men's. 

There is an urgent call for collective action towards creating a more inclusive world, where every woman experiences a sense of belonging and relevance in all aspects of life, including financial planning for the future.  

To gain insights into how individuals like Abigail Carter, Business Development Manager at Scottish Widows, champion #inspireinclusion this International Women's Day, we interviewed her to share her perspective. 


Image of Abbi Carter

Abbi Carter is a Business Development Manager at Scottish Widows. She works with employers and advisers to create exciting workplace pension solutions that deliver fantastic retirement outcomes. She is passionate about ensuring everyone has a voice, collaborating and sharing stories to empower each other and inspire change.

Here's what she said...

What does International Women’s Day mean to you and how do you inspire inclusion? 

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to empower women, their families, their friends, and colleagues, to speak up, ask questions and seek answers on the topics that matter to them. By sharing our research findings through stories from real people, we can inspire others to better understand the challenges faced by minorities when reaching retirement. There are lots of ways to make a difference, during the moments that matter in life, to change retirement outcomes for the better and we are all responsible for helping achieve this. Conversation is the best place to start! 

What would you say are some specific challenges women face in achieving financial wellness and how can these be addressed? 

We face a stark gender pension gap in the UK - on average women receive £7,000 less per year than men at retirement. This needs to change! We want equality at retirement to ensure everyone has the freedom to live comfortably and experience a sense of financial security during and beyond their working years.

Today, women are earning 15% less than men per hour, preventing them from saving enough for their future. There are more women than men in part-time roles or not working at all, due to stepping back from careers to support childcare needs and then facing limited opportunities to get back into work.

We have an opportunity as experts in the industry to share our knowledge, the insight we are getting through our research and the resources we have available help our customers, family, and friends to understand the impact of their choices once they get to retirement – before they get there! 

Can you share some successful stories or examples of how International Women’s Day has opened the door for important discussion around the unique challenges women face when it comes to finances?

A group of us volunteer time to running colleague calls to provide information, tips and tricks and a platform to ask questions on all things pensions. We run a series of calls throughout March, centred on International Women’s Day, to share our Women & Retirement report (PDF, 4MB) findings, colleague stories and provide resources to empower everyone to learn more about their pension and take control of saving for their futures.

These calls lead to real conversations about the various challenges being faced; whether it is not having a clue where to start with understanding more about their pension, needing some direction towards where they can nominate a beneficiary or even women going through a divorce who didn’t realise pensions should be considered as an asset (and why!). The importance of supporting each other and listening plays a huge role in beginning to tackle these challenges. 

How can we ensure that International Women’s Day becomes a catalyst for discussion and actions surrounding women’s finances especially in long-term savings such as retirement? 

The term International Women’s Day can often feel exclusive to women, however the topics we explore in our research affect us all. We’re on a mission to empower everyone to take responsibility for securing their financial freedom at retirement and there are lots of ways we can do this at all stages of life.

Whether you are a single mother, needing support to balance your career and childcare, or somebody going through a divorce – knowledge is power and International Women’s Day is the perfect opportunity to start a conversation, share stories and tap into the expertise at Scottish Widows to inspire each other to take action.  

Everybody should get to enjoy their retirement, going on holiday, buying a new car, taking up a new hobby – living life to its fullest. This International Women’s Day, check your pension, pick up the phone to a friend, or sit down with your partner to chat about your pension and make sure that no questions are left unanswered. 



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