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GENDER INEQUALITY IN RETIREMENT SECURITY
On average, women are paid 60 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts for similar work, according to the Global Gender Pay Report 2020. Research from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) lays bare the effect of the gender pay differential. The AAUW attributes an additional ten years to student loan repayment for female graduates as a result of the 26% gender wage difference between non-minority men and women in the USA.
Delayed or reduced pension contributions are but one of many issues that are engendered by wage disparity. Reduced contributions immediately translate to reduced savings that may generate pensions falling significantly below the recommended threshold of 70% of one’s pre-retirement salary - a leading cause of pension poverty. To benefit from the same pension as their male counterparts many women would have to save significantly more over an extended period. This, coupled with the fact that women live longer and often experience old age health-related issues earlier, places women in a far more vulnerable position than men.
COVID-19 has underscored the fact that the social construct that regards the woman as the primary caregiver is entrenched in most societies. According to McKinsey Global Institute’s COVID-19 and Gender Inequality: Countering the Negative Effects report, at least 75% of the burden of unpaid care including caring for the young, elderly cooking, and cleaning rests on the shoulders of women. This has been significantly increased in the pandemic and exacerbates employment and economic fallout among women thereby reducing the ability to ensure retirement security.
The panel will focus on gender-related structural challenges around pension schemes and discusses possible ways to solve such issues, with a view to strengthening awareness amongst pension practitioners that gender equality not only includes equal pay on salaries but also an equal and fair share in pension accruals and entitlements.
New and urgent pension related issues are also emerging in the area of gender. What are the effects of genderfluidity on pensions? How should we deal with gender differentiated annuity pricing? What use are mortality tables in this new world? How to deal with survivors' pensions in “newly mixed” couples? For occupational pensions, some Member States in the EU are considering voluntary schemes with auto-enrollment and opt-out mechanisms instead of collective obligatory schemes. Is the opt-out gender neutral or not?
The panel will also explore the differences between men and women in retirement plan sponsorship, eligibility and participation, as well as differences in wages, all leading to less retirement savings and readiness. How does longer life expectancy and caregiving affect female retirement readiness?
Gender and diversity issues in and around pension schemes lead to a further deepening of social inequality across the globe. The gender gap in retirement security is therefore an important aspect of economic inequality and a challenge to pension professionals.
MODERATOR: Sanya Goffe, President, Pension Industry Association of Jamaica and Partner, Hart Muirhead Fatta
PANELLISTS: Joelle Saad-Lessler, Stevens Institute of Technology, USA and Prof. Dr. Yves Stevens, of the University of Leuven, Belgium