International Women's Day 2024

International Women's Day isn't just about celebrating achievements, it's also a stark reminder of the barriers women continue to break down. As a young girl, I used to flip through the pages of glossy magazines to find inspiration, looking for those who looked like me or thought like me, but I rarely found them.

Thankfully times are changing, and we’re witnessing a rise of incredible women defying the odds and shattering stereotypes in every sector, including the traditionally male-dominated realm of finance. Which is especially exciting to see considering the historical roadblocks women have faced. For centuries, women were denied basic rights like voting, holding jobs, or even having their own bank accounts—which is mindblowing to look back on, when you consider that women help drive the world economy. It’s these advancements, coupled with the achievements of modern female financial leaders, that send a powerful message: women are not only capable but essential players in shaping the economic landscape.

However, despite the progress, the journey towards true financial equality for women in the UK is not without its challenges. Gender-based disparities in income and employment opportunities still make it difficult for some women to qualify for mortgages on equal terms with men. Highlighting the ongoing need to address these underlying inequalities and ensure fair access to financial products and services for all.

 But there is hope, as recent decades have seen a rise in female homebuyers and investors in the UK, with studies indicating that single women are increasingly becoming homeowners and investors, leveraging their financial independence and savvy to navigate the property market. Which is a testament to the resilience and determination of women, and their growing influence in the housing landscape.

So, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, let’s acknowledge this progress, and look back at how far we have come over the years…

1792: Mary Wollstonecraft’s “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman,” is published: arguing for women’s education, economic independence, and political participation.

1870: The Married Women’s Property Act was passed, allowing married women to own property and keep their earnings. However, it wasn’t as good as it sounds, with various loopholes (such as the act not applying to property owned before marriage, meaning husbands took full control over prior assets) 

1918: The Representation of the People Act granted women over the age of 30, who met a property qualification, voting rights… Yet that same act gave the vote to all men over the age of 21.

1919: The Sex Discrimination (Removal) Act becomes law in the UK, giving women the right to a professional career as an accountant, lawyer or vet. 

1922: The UK Law of Property Act comes into play. Before this, women had to give up all legal rights to their property when they got married, but with this new act, women and men had equal rights to inherit property from each other. 

1948: The Married Women’s Property Act is extended, granting married women full ownership and control of their earnings and property.

1970: The Equal Pay Act is passed in the UK, making it illegal for women to be paid less than men for the same type and amount of work, and to receive inferior benefits as part of their employment. 

1973: Six women were allowed to join the London Stock Exchange for the first time in its 200-year history – a breakthrough for women working in finance. 

1975: Women could open a bank account in their own name. Single women still couldn’t apply for a loan or credit card in their own name without a signature from their father, even if they earned more.

1975: The Sex Discrimination Act comes into play, making it illegal to discriminate based on gender in various areas, including access to financial services and housing. As a result, employers, landlords, and financial institutes legally have to treat women as equal to men for the first time.

1982: The law changed, and women were no longer legally able to be refused service for spending their own money in a pub unaccompanied.

1986: The UK’s Sex Discrimination Act (Amendment) was extended, allowing women to retire at the same age as men.

1987: Saw statutory maternity pay was introduced in the UK, making eligible women entitled to receive six weeks of maternity pay at 90% of their usual earnings. 

1990: married women are now taxed independently from their husbands, thanks to Independent Taxation being introduced in the UK. Women’s income is now officially recognised as their own, rather than an extension of their husbands’. 

1993: All working women in the UK are now entitled to statutory maternity pay, as a result of a European directive.

2018: Thanks to a UK government initiative, all companies with more than 250 employees must publicly declare the salaries (and pay gaps!) of male and female employees. 

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