WOMEN have faced huge financial inequalities since, well, it seems like just about forever. Sure women held equal financial rights with men in Ancient Egypt, but it has been thousands of years now since that equilibrium started to be lost. And while women have come a long way in the past century, gradually winning the right to earn, borrow and inherit, we are still very much at a financial disadvantage to men.

Much of this is because it is women who take time off work to have babies, with the financial impact of taking even a short break having the potential to last for a lifetime. More and more women may be choosing to return to work full-time after having kids, but many still do not and the impact that has on their earning power - and saving power - can be immense. It should come as no surprise that women - who too often get pigeon holed into roles that are not only less lucrative than those held by men but come with fewer opportunities for promotion too - end their working days with pension pots that pale in comparison to those of their male peers.

But does that mean that women have more right than men to be supported in later life by the state? Is the way to make amends for this historical inequality to expect the younger generation to have to pay to make it right? One particularly vociferous group of 1950s-born women certainly seems to think so.

It is no secret that we are all going to have to work a bit longer than our parents did in order to receive a taxpayer-funded retirement income, with the state pension age due to rise from 65 to 66 by October next year then on to 67 by 2028 and 68 by 2046. Given that we are all living longer, healthier lives, that the retired population is rising faster than the working-age one, and that the state pension is funded out of current-year’s taxation, that all seems to make perfect sense.

Only, to get there the retirement age for women had to be brought into line with that of men first, with a gradual increase from 60 to 65 taking place between 2010 and 2018. While the change will affect all women in the long run, it was those born in the 1950s that have really felt its impact in the here and now, with a woman born in December 1954, for example, seeing her retirement date shift first from December 2014 to September 2019 and then on to December 2020 as a result.

Understandably, a large group of those affected were irate, with the campaign group Backto60 taking the UK Government to court to try to reverse the change. Only the women’s claims that their “earned dues” had been robbed from them, that they were not given enough time to plan for the changes, and that the workplace discrimination they have experienced gave them the right to earn more than others from the state fell short of the mark. High Court judges Lord Justice Irwin and Mrs Justice Whipple last week rejected their bid, ruling that far from discriminating against women, the increase to the female pension age “equalises a historic asymmetry between men and women and thereby corrects historic direct discrimination against men”.

Though it may stick in the craw to admit that men can face sex-based discrimination too - and though it does nothing to deal with the many injustices women continue to face on a daily basis - it seems only right that the judges should have reached that conclusion. While it must be disappointing for the women involved - and Backto60 has vowed that its “fight will go on” - there can be no justification for perpetuating a rare inequality that favoured women, especially when Backto60’s case was predicated on a misunderstanding at best and a lie at worst.

Indeed, while the campaign group was happy to let its supporters - thousands of whom ploughed cash into its fundraisers - believe that their pension savings had been raided, nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, we all earn the right to receive a state pension by paying taxes throughout our working lives, but those contributions do not accumulate in a pot to be paid back to us on retirement. The truth is we have no state pension pot and it is up to the Government, which must pay today’s pensioners from today’s tax take, to decide how much we all receive and when. No matter how easy it is to suppose they might have ulterior motives, if our elected members decide it would be better for the public purse - and those contributing to it - to reduce the overall pensioner pool, they are well within their rights to do so.

That does not mean that 1950s women and those who have come after them should be left high and dry, though. One of the arguments used by Backto60 and similar organisation Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) is that, after a lifetime of hard graft, its members are simply not able to continue working until the age of 66 and need to access their state pension earlier in order to make ends meet. They make a very good point. Much of the work historically done by women has been highly labour intensive, with the heavy lifting associated with the caring and cleaning roles typically reserved for women taking its toll on their bodies. Add in the fact that the low wages they will have been paid for this work may have led them to make decisions that were detrimental to their overall health and wellbeing and you can see why some 60 year olds may not be physically able to continue in the world of work.

Given that many more will be, it would make no sense to allow all 1950s women to continue to draw their pension at 60, though, particularly as that would simply push the problem down the road for those born in the 1960s to have to deal with. But there should be nothing to stop the men and women who cannot physically continue to work beyond the age of 60 from taking their pension early at a suitably reduced rate, especially as those who want to take theirs late can do so in return for enhanced payments further down the line.

Indeed, if exceptions can be made for those healthy and wealthy enough to keep working beyond the state retirement age, allowing early access for the less healthy and less well-off would seem to be the very least the Government could do. Then, perhaps, we can get on to dealing with all the deep-seated structural inequalities that mean even girls being born today face the prospect of earning less than their male peers, both during their working lives and - crucially - beyond.