It was on September 18, 2020 that United Nations first celebrated Equal Pay Day. Most importantly, it aims at highlighting the importance of achieving equal pay globally (for work at the same level); and, as per the UN there is an existing gender pay gap estimated at 23 percent. So, the day is observed by the United Nations to highlight this issue and also to end discrimination against women and girls.
Today the world is observing this day, to throw light on the importance of ending sexual discrimination, regarding gender pay gap. This year’s celebration will focus on the efforts of key labour market factors, to ensure that equal pay remains central to pandemic responses worldwide and also, to fully recognize the contributions of women to COVID-19 recovery. The occasion aims to achieve a united commitment to closing the gender pay gap across regions and sectors – to build ahead from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The key focus is that “equal pay for work of equal value” is a human right that must be made available to all women. In India, it is seen that women earn 19 per cent less than men. How can a country progress if almost half of its population is subjected to discrimination?
But there certain factors that point to keep the flag flying high for gender equality, as far as compensation for work is concerned.
• Equal pay: a human right: Across the globe, it is a reality that women are paid less than men across the world. In India, the situation is grave. A survey by Monster Salary Index has revealed that women earn 19 per cent less than men.
It is a glaring fact that gender pay gap persists. According to Statistics Canada, on average, full-time working women in Canada earn 32% less than men. This gap is wider for Indigenous women (35%), women with a disability (46%), and racialized women (33%). This gender pay gap primarily contributes to the existence of poverty in women’s lives.
In India, with women forming almost 50% of the population, this clearly points to the injustice meted out to nearly half of the Indian population. Actually, equal pay for equal work is a human right and all women are entitled to this. As a society, and as a nation, we should ensure that everyone gets equal treatment and any form of discrimination should not push anyone behind.
• Role of women is indispensable: In the business world, the role of women has forged ahead and their presence is really creating ripples. Today, women business leaders and entrepreneurs are indeed grabbing the spotlight. To trace back in history, the Father of the Nation – Mahatma Gandhi, while fighting against the British, firmly believed that India cannot gain independence, if there is no emancipation of women and they are kept away from the freedom struggle. But, a reality check shows we still have a long way to go. Significantly, today, we are stepping ahead to become an economic superpower but, unfortunately, we forget that this cannot be achieved unless we achieve equal pay for equal work.
• Impact of COVID-19 pandemic: The current pandemic has also had a gendered impact. According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 13% of all working women in Canada are at risk of layoff, compared to 9% of working men. Women in low-wage jobs are therefore, most at risk. This again displays the need for pay equity. It is imperative that a gender-based analysis be the focus of the government. Ultimately, the inclusion of women is critical at all levels of consultation and decision-making – to ensure that they are not left behind as a result of the pandemic.
• Ensuring a brighter future: The presence of biases against the female gender continues to block the progress of many nations. It also limits women’s ability to gain economic stability and freedom. And researchers have found that this has a domino effect on their children too. How can a nation progress if its women and children are subjected to discrimination? Therefore, it is vital that we work towards equal compensation for all men and women – for a brighter future.
So, equal pay is urgent issue now, and should be taken up without further ado. Equal pay matters because it is a glaring injustice. But, closing the gender pay gap does require a great push. And, the time has come to push ahead, now!!