Thursday, 7th December 2023

Why gender, wage disparities persist amid progress

By Gloria Nwafor
21 September 2023   |   4:00 am
Labour experts have raised concerns over the rise in gender wage gaps across industries and occupations.

Labour experts have raised concerns over the rise in gender wage gaps across industries and occupations.

Specifically, they argued that gender wage gaps are not primarily attributed to differences in educational attainment and, in general, do not narrow but rather often increase in age.

According to the ILO Global Wage Report 2018/19, women earn on average about 20 per cent less than men, although there are wide variations across countries.

An economist and labour market information specialist, Souleima El Achkar said despite some limited progress, much work remains to be done to reach Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5, (achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls) and to meet SDG target 8.5 (full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value).

She said policies and concerted actions of governments and employers are needed to promote women’s labour force participation, address gender segregation and increase women’s participation in leadership and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) positions.

She said this was paramount to address discriminatory employment and pay practices, including career progression, through pay transparency measures and pay equity principles and acts.

According to her, helpful policies and practices should involve protecting women’s safety and health and preventing any form of discrimination, violence, sexual or moral harassment; investing in care policies and promoting shared care responsibilities; and ensuring that women have access to adequate social protection across all stages of their lives, which is fundamental to mitigate disruptions to their careers.

However, showing their commitments, global leaders at the ongoing United Nations (UN) General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, pledged to reduce the gender pay gap.

The commitments, The Guardian gathered, are expected to provide momentum in addressing the significant pay disparities between men and women, with initiatives ranging from funding apprenticeship programmes to expanding pay transparency efforts.

Organised by the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC), it aims to achieve equal pay for women and men everywhere.

It helps governments, employers, workers, the private sector and civil society organisations to take action to meet the goal at global, regional and national levels – in line with the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951.

Representatives from the three international organisations that lead EPIC – the ILO, UN Women and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), stressed the steps they would take to help reduce the gender pay gap.

ILO Director-General, Gilbert Houngbo, said the labour organisation would leverage a system-wide approach through the Global Coalition for Social Justice to further accelerate progress towards Target 8.5 of the SDGs; update the EPIC Global Legal Database with the latest available equal pay information; and expand the EPIC network to attract an additional 18 members, bringing membership to 75 from 57.

Executive Director of UN Women, Sima Bahous, said the agency will “continue to work with governments, civil society, and the private sector to reduce the gender pay gap in over 20 countries worldwide, including through our gender equality accelerator. We will also continue to mobilise and advocate for equal pay, work of equal value and entrepreneurship with our women’s economic empowerment principles at the core of our interventions.”

OECD Deputy Secretary General, Ulrik Knudsen, said: “OECD will expand the work on pay transparency. This includes the publication ‘Reporting Gender Pay Gaps in OECD Countries’ and related policy briefs, and workshops on digital tools for pay gap reporting and compliance with reporting rules.”