United Kingdom's Gender Wage Gap
The gender pay gap, or the difference in pay between men and women, has been under scrutiny across the globe for decades with the rise of feminist movements. The United Kingdom has received a lot of backlash since a report concerning unequal pay underwent publication in 2016. The Economic Policy Institute cited that women earned only 79 cents for every dollar that a man earned. However, the United Kingdom’s gender wage gap is slowly closing under the newly introduced gender pay gap transparency regulations.

Gender Pay Gap Transparency Regulations

In early 2017, the U.K.’s Equality and Human Rights Commission introduced a new practice in the United Kingdom, which required that all companies with more than 250 employees be honest and open about gender pay inequalities. Within this regulation, businesses must post the difference in payment between their male and female employees and have the data publicly available for at least three years. Companies that do not comply may undergo investigation and be subject to heavy fines.

The Society for Human Resource Management stated that these reports are “calling for more attention” to the U.K.’s gender wage gap and encourage “tracking the metric over time” to assure that progress is occurring. In turn, this makes companies aware of income inequality. The businesses also work to protect their reputation in a growing field of competitors.

Concerns arise because COVID-19 could very well increase the gender wage gap. According to Ogletree Deakins, companies did not have to submit these reports by the April 2020 deadline. Before the pandemic, corporations had to submit their wage gap numbers by April. However, in 2021, businesses must post their inequality findings by a later deadline in October. Ogletree Deakins found that “By 24 March 2020, the day the government announced the suspension” of the April 2020 deadline for reporting, just  26% “of companies compelled to report had done so.”

While this resolve for the union seems fresh, U.K. efforts to reduce wage inequality began decades ago. In November 1970, the Equal Pay Act made wage differences based on gender in the U.K. illegal.

The Result of the Regulations

According to Statista, the gender wage gap has decreased by almost 3% since the regulations’ implementation. The reported inequality has also declined substantially from the U.K.’s highest point of wage imbalance at 27.5% in 1997. Now, with the current rate at 15.5% on average, citizens hope this rate will continue to drop.

However, in the part-time sector where wage gap statistics fall below 0%, the rate of inequality is on the rise from its all-time low in 2015. The U.K. parliament finds that women are more likely to take on these part-time occupations and experience wage inequality when they pass the age of 40. This wage inequality continues even in high-paying jobs.

Some countries within the U.K. have different pay gap rates than their sister nations. Northern Ireland has the lowest gender wage gap at -3%, while London has a pay difference of 13%. Despite any discrepancies, all nations within the U.K. have seen a significant decrease in the wage gap since the implementation of the transparency regulations.

The Reaction of Businesses

Many businesses have aligned with the legislation by creating new strategies to decrease the wage gap. The Society for Human Resources Management states that more than 65% of companies have started conducting research on pay inequality and 32% have started actively working to close the United Kingdom’s gender wage gap.

A popular law firm in the United Kingdom, McKinsey and Company, discussed its strategy in a 2019 announcement. The business declared that it would recruit more women into its firm, develop the talents of those recruited women and “shape the debate through rigorous research.” Other companies seem to be following suit.

Bloomberg stated that a U.K. hygiene and health production company, Reckitt Benckiser Group, has started paying women 6.1% more than men. The corporation condemned the pay gap via a report in 2021 and assured that it would continue to “address the issue.”

The Future

While it is uncertain whether the United Kingdom’s gender wage gap will ever truly disappear, many believe that the payment inequality statistics will continue to fall over time. The U.K. currently ranks fifth on the European Institute for Gender Equality Index, but expectations have determined that the region will improve its score as it did between 2005 and 2017, possibly surpassing other nations with its actions for fairness.

– Laken G. Kincaid
Photo: Flickr

Gender Wage Gap in Brazil
Despite having the same legal rights as men, Brazilian women continue to fight for equality in the workplace. The gender wage gap in Brazil is one of the largest in Latin America, and women earn an average of 30% less than men.

Today, societal norms and the lack of gender representation in Congress contribute to this gap. As a result, the pay gap affects minority women the most and they earn approximately half the wage of the average white man. Despite the pay gap between women and men, Brazil has made advances toward gender equality in the past few decades.

Gender Inequality in Brazil

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), 78% of men hold jobs in comparison to 56% of women in Brazil. Yet, the majority of women in the survey said that they would prefer a paid job to staying at home.

In Brazil, most women have access to the same educational opportunities as men. However, their degree does not necessarily translate into a higher salary. For example, women account for more than 60% of the workforce with college degrees. However, they receive 36% less pay than men with college degrees. Therefore, the gender wage gap in Brazil impacts women of all educational and economic backgrounds.

The Issue

Traditionally, Brazilian culture expects women to stay at home while men support the family. As a result, women who break cultural norms by working outside the home find it difficult to establish successful careers. Though women make up roughly half of the workforce in Brazil, only 16% of companies have a female CEO and less than 20% of women hold middle management positions. These statistics illustrate Brazil’s well-established social hierarchy where women rank second to men.

Women’s underrepresentation in Congress also allows men to hold the majority of political power within the Brazilian government. Women held fewer than 15% of Congressional seats until 2018. The male-dominated Congress failed to pass legislation that would address the gender wage gap in Brazil. Even though women have held 30% of Congressional seats following the 2018 election, women still experience stigma for challenging cultural norms.

How the Gender Wage Gap Affects Minorities

Afro-Brazilian women suffer the most from the lack of female representation in Congress. There are few government officials to represent their best interests. The average income for Afro-Brazilian women is $2.50 per hour. The average income for white women is $4.02 per hour. These salaries compare to the average for white men, which is $5 per hour.

The gender wage gap in Brazil affects women of all socio-economic backgrounds. In 2015, Afro-Brazilians made up 76% of the lower class, and only 17% was among the country’s richest 1%. Even more, minority women with secondary education earn less than their white counterparts with the same qualifications, showing how the wage gap adversely affects minority women.

The Progress

Local organizations are actively working within the Brazilian community to bridge the gender wage gap. For example, the Associação the Comunitária dos Moradores de Mandassaia (Community Association of Residents of Mandassaia) promotes gender equality by empowering women in the small town of Mandassaia, Brazil.

Mandassaia is a rural town where job opportunities are scarce. Typically, Mandassaia women work in sugar cane fields or stay home to raise their children. In 2017, the Community Association of Residents of Mandassaia partnered with the National School Feeding Program to help a small group of women profit off of Mandassaia’s sugar cane production. The Program teaches women cake baking and jam production so they can make money selling baked goods. Through the Community Association of Residents of Mandassaia, these women were able to increase their income by 425% and earn a livable wage.

Mandassaia’s bakers now have a community farming seal, which allows them to expand their business and provide more job opportunities for women. By helping women become financially independent in local communities, the Community Association of Residents of Mandassaia is reducing the wage gap in Brazil.

Looking Ahead

The pay gap has decreased over the last few decades, and the Brazilian government is participating in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal to achieve equal pay by 2030. The Brazilian government has also agreed to work toward reducing gender inequality in the workforce by 25% by 2025. Although Brazil continues to struggle with bridging the wage gap in the workplace, the efforts of the Brazilian government and community to eliminate gender inequality represent an encouraging step forward.

Abby Adu
Photo: Flickr

Women's Rights in Canada
Ontario in 1884 and Manitoba in 1900 were the first two Canadian provinces to enact the Married Women’s Property Act. This act allowed married women to have the same legal rights as men, such as purchasing property. Gradually, the other provinces and territories also signed the act. This was one of the first significant improvements to women’s rights in Canada. Further changes in legislation initiated the process of decreasing gender inequality in the country.

The Precedent of the Married Women’s Property Act

Many of the rights that women in Canada now possess are recent acquisitions, especially since Canada is a relatively young country. Most women’s rights became implemented throughout the past 100 years. The Married Women’s Property Act was one of the biggest breakthroughs in women’s rights in Canada because it set a historic precedent that women could be independent in legal matters. Furthermore, the act allowed women to exist independently as separate individuals from their male counterparts. By allowing women to buy property, women gained the ability to possess something of value for themselves.

Achieving Women’s Rights

By 1918, Caucasian women had all gained the right to vote in federal elections. However, it wasn’t until 1960 that Aboriginal women achieved women’s suffrage as well. Furthermore, women were identified as “persons” in the name of the law, which gave them the right to hold political office in 1929. Cairine Reay Wilson became the first woman elected to the Senate in the following year. By selecting a female senator, women’s rights in Canada progressed even further because a female leader represented and spoke up for women.

Moving forward, there were many more victories for women’s rights in Canada. In 1985, the government outlawed discrimination against an individual on the basis of sex, gender or sexual orientation. Around the same time, the government also criminalized sexual assault within marriage.

Organizations Making An Impact

Two major organizations that support women in Canada are the Canadian Women’s Foundation and the National Council of Women of Canada.

The Canadian Women’s Foundation is a nongovernmental organization that is committed to achieving gender equality. The organization implements social and economic strategies to do so. It specifically advocates for women of diverse backgrounds but is not limited to them. The organization funds programs dedicated to addressing the issues of violence, economic stability, women’s empowerment and leadership. Furthermore, the foundation’s mission reflects its dedication to achieving gender equality for all genders.

The National Council of Women of Canada addresses the welfare and improvement of the overall standard of life for women. The organization focuses on using research and education to empower women to make informed political decisions. This allows women to play a more active role in society and gain an equal position in important matters.

The Gender Wage Gap

Though Canada has made immense strides in gender equality, there are still many issues that the country has to address. One of these issues is the wage gap in Canada. The government made the gender wage gap illegal; however, women are still not all paid equally. This issue can be addressed by representing women in every field. Women occupy fewer high-paid roles than men do. By providing equal gender representation in career fields, the government will make large strides in addressing women’s rights in Canada.

Canada can push for women’s equality by setting an example and being active in women’s rights issues. The country has been successful in creating change and altering perceptions on women’s rights. Partnering with nonprofit organizations, such as the National Council of Women of Canada, will be essential in making Canada a leader in women’s rights and paving the way for future change.

Manasi Singh
Photo: Flickr

The Gender Wage Gap in Iran and COVID-19 Vaccines
Today, the gender wage gap in Iran is so large that, on average, a woman can expect to make just 18% of what a man does. To make matters worse, the COVID-19 pandemic has widened the already severe gender wage gap in Iran. According to the 2021 Global Gender Gap Report from the World Economic Forum, the pandemic has made a major impact on gender inequality, as “closing the global gender gap has increased by a generation from 99.5 years to 135.6 years.” This shift disproportionately targets countries with large pre-existing gender wage gaps, such as Iran. As a result, gender wage gaps will only continue to persist and worsen until the end of the global pandemic. While the outlook for closing the gender wage gap in Iran is currently grim, the advent of the COVID-19 vaccine offers a ray of hope for restarting the movement towards gender equality.

Gender Inequality in Iran

Many consider the Islamic Republic of Iran to be an authoritarian state and it has notably restricted the rights of women since undergoing an Islam-oriented Cultural Revolution in 1980. As a result, Iranian society has since relegated women to domestic roles. Women’s political power in Iran has severe limitations. According to the World Economic Forum, the number of women in Parliament is a paltry 5.6%. Additionally, the number of women participating in the labor force stands at a mere 18.9% in 2021, compared to 39% in 2006.

With restricted rights and limited representation in politics, intervention is critical in reducing the massive gender inequality that is present. A paper that the United Nations published on the subject argues just that, saying, “remedial policy is required if Iran is to pursue socio-economic development and redistributive justice.”

One organization fighting for gender equality in Iran and other Middle Eastern countries is the Women’s Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE). This NGO fights against unjust interpretations of the Quran. This includes the idea that men should be above women in society and relationships in Islam. Through the promotion of a more just interpretation of the Quran, WISE helps nations create legislation that will open doors for women in the workforce, politics and society.

How the Gender Wage Gap in Iran has Changed Over Time

While the situation in Iran is far from ideal, some societal improvements lend hope for a better future. Particularly, the increases in education. Education lays the foundation for an elevation of the role of women in society. In the past 15 years, literacy rates for women have increased from 70% to 80.8%. This is due to increased educational resources for women in the country. Women have also increased their presence in parliament, which increased from 4% to 5.6%.

The movement towards gender equality is making modest headway in some regards, despite the widening gender wage gap in Iran in that same timeframe. However, the ongoing pandemic is stalling much of this progress. The World Economic Forum estimates that since 2018, Iran’s Gender Gap Index, a scale of one to seven showing how severe the gender gap in a country is, has fallen from .589 to .582. This is mostly due to the impact of COVID-19. It shows how the pandemic is turning the tides away from gender equality.

Despite some success in recent years, COVID-19 has undone much of this positive change. The impact of COVID-19 is especially harmful to women in the workforce. Solving the issues presented by the pandemic is key for closing the gender wage gap in Iran. Since the gap is actively widening, it is crucial to stop the spread of COVID-19 as soon as possible.

How COVID-19 Vaccines Can Help Close the Gender Wage Gap in Iran

It is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic is pushing open the gender gap in Iran rather than closing it. The good news is that vaccines present a route out of the pandemic for the country. If Iran can vaccinate according to WHO’s critical mass figure of 80% of the population, the country can achieve herd immunity and return to functioning as normal.

In fact, the devastation of the pandemic has left a greater demand for labor. The roughly 34 million unemployed women in Iran could meet this demand. The sheer volume of unemployed women demonstrates the overwhelming disadvantage women are at in Iran’s workforce. However, the need for mass vaccinations to allow for more women to work is clear as well.

As of May 20, 2021, only 2.4% of the population has received a dose and only 0.4% of the population is fully vaccinated. Iran has a long way to go to vaccinate enough people to return to normal and increase the chances of women in the workforce. It is important for world leaders to prioritize the distribution of vaccines worldwide. This will not only help to end the pandemic but help stop the rising gender inequality that has stemmed from it.

Looking Ahead

Data from the World Economic Forum proves that the pandemic has created a devastating impact on the gender wage gap in Iran. The data shows why vaccinations must experience as much promotion as possible to stop the spread. Without swift action, the gap will only widen. Change in legislation can help bring gender equality in Iran. As of now, though, the next step in working toward that goal is to end the pandemic.

– Jeremy Long
Photo: Flickr

Gender Wage Gap in IndiaGender inequality is still a prevailing problem across the world today. India is one country among the many engaging in the fight for gender equality. One prominent issue within this gender struggle is the disparity in pay. The strive toward equality within the country requires a greater focus on the gender wage gap in India. This pay gap is perpetuated by multiple factors, which must be tackled from a variety of angles. Two key areas for improvement lie within the education system and job market. In order to diminish the pervasive gender wage gap in India, the country’s educational and occupational discrepancies between men and women need to be addressed.

Barriers to Equality

Indian women often receive an insufficient amount of education and preparation for the workforce. On top of this, the educational training they do obtain tends to be of poorer quality. The literacy rate for women in India is around 70% while the literacy rate for men in India is 84.7%. Due to lower quality in education, women are less likely to attain higher-paying jobs. In fact, the participation rate of Indian women in the labor force has declined over the past 20 years and is significantly less than the world’s average. A high percentage of women who do find work do so in vulnerable employment situations. Around 80% of employed women work in rural areas in the agricultural sector and very few women work in the paid labor market. Comparatively, unpaid work accounts for only a quarter of men’s time. As a result, the wage gap between men and women widens.

This is if women can succeed in pushing against the social norm that women should stay at home and care for children. Oftentimes, women must take on the position of caretaker, which leaves less time for pursuing careers outside of the home. This societal standard has furthered educational and occupational inequalities. Investment in education is geared more toward men because women are labeled as future homemakers. Additionally, women face discrimination in the workforce due to the assumed idea of motherhood. Women are viewed as potential mothers who do not have time for the job and thus receive unfair pay. Accompanying the role of child caretaker, women in India generally hold a lower status than men. This leads to women being treated unfairly, one way being through smaller wages than men.

Commit2Change

The movement to decrease the gender wage gap in India is not without aid. NGOs are joining the fight for equality from all around the globe in numerous functions. One international NGO working specifically with young girls in India is Commit2Change. Its primary goal is to educate orphaned girls in India to transform their lives and provide a pathway to a bright future. Commit2Change believes educated women can help remedy gender inequality, especially in the job market.

Commit2Change works with young girls to instill academic knowledge, self-worth and the importance of community aid and involvement. Its educational programs help its participants to thrive holistically in all of these elements, especially educationally. Commit2Change has reached more than 4,000 girls, helping 98% of them to enroll in secondary school, 89% to pass exams and graduate and increase their interest in education by 82%. Commit2Change is undoubtedly fulfilling its goal of helping girls succeed through the power of education.

A Promising Shift Toward Gender Equality

The hurdles women must overcome in relation to education and job opportunities greatly influence the gender wage gap in India. To tackle these issues, Commit2Change along with similar organizations are paving the way for equality in the workforce. Commit2Change prepares young girls for a technologically advanced workforce, which can help them obtain high-paying jobs. It achieves this by providing quality education and adaptive life skills programming. As Commit2Change and other NGOs continue to educate and support women and young girls, the ultimate end to the gender wage gap in India may be an attainable goal.

Philip Tang
Photo: Flickr

Gender Wage Gap in Taiwan
The gender wage gap in Taiwan is a prominent issue. In 2012, women had to work 65 more days than men to earn the same pay. In 2018, it was down to 52 more days. But in 2019, it was back up to 54. Even though this statistic has decreased in the past 10 years, it is still a prominent issue.

Background

While the gender wage gap in Taiwan is better than in other developed nations, more work is necessary. In human health services, for example, the pay gap is 45%. This means that women would have to work 109 more days to receive the same yearly salary as a man. While the wage gap is decreasing, the progress is not spread out equally across different industries.

Certain professions have seen the gap increase in particular. In arts and entertainment careers, men’s wages in this field have increased drastically while women’s have remained the same.

Progress, From a Global Perspective

According to the Ministry of Labor, the average salary per hour for women in Taiwan in 2020 was New Taiwan (NT) $296, or $10.63. On the other hand, men earned NT $344, or $12.35. This gap has improved throughout the past 10 years, as it was 17.1% in 2010 and 14% in 2020.

While a significant wage gap in Taiwan still exists, the country is making significant progress in relation to other countries. For comparison, in 2019, the wage gap was 31.9% in Japan, 30.6% in South Korea and 17.7% in the United States.

Government Efforts

In order to raise awareness about the gender wage gap in Taiwan, the Ministry of Labor initiated an Equal Pay Day in 2012. This has drawn attention to the higher number of days women must work in order to earn the same amount as a man. As of 2017, women needed to work 13 fewer days to receive the same annual salary as they did in 2012.

Taiwan has also established gender equality laws to create a better workplace environment for women. In 2002, the Act of Gender Equality in Employment (AGEE) passed. Its goal is to protect gender equality in the workplace by prohibiting gender discrimination. One can see this in the Maternity Protection section of AGEE, which protects menstrual leave. This provides women with half of one’s regular pay one day each month, maternity leave for eight weeks and five days of leave for pregnancy checkups.

The Office of Gender Equality in the Taipei City government has played a key role in advocating for gender equality in Taiwan. Since its development, it has worked to improve family support, enforcing legal action against gender discrimination and supporting female union members.

Progress

The number of women who are pursuing college degrees in Taiwan has increased throughout the past decade. However, the graduate school rate is lower, with females taking up 31.7% of doctoral degree graduates. As the number of women in college continues to increase, they are more likely to hold positions in the workplace.

In addition to this, the average age of giving birth to one’s first child has increased. In 2017, the average age was 30.83 years. Family obligations make it difficult for mothers to continue their careers and/or education. This contributes to the higher number of women in the workplace and in graduate studies.

– Miranda Kargol
Photo: Flickr

Gender Pay Gap in IrelandThe gender pay gap in Ireland has been a problem for decades. This issue has continued to persist despite legislative efforts in the past. However, in 2019, Ireland passed the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill to amend previous legislation on the matter. The bill requires employers to make known any pay differences between female and male employees and to take action to address unjustified differences. Supporters of the bill hope that it will force employers to acknowledge and close the pay gap. It is important to recognize how far Ireland has come toward rectifying inequality, acknowledging the poverty it can induce.

History of the Gender Pay Gap in Ireland

Gender equality policies in Ireland were implemented when Ireland joined the European Economic Committee (EEC) in the 1970s. In 1973, women made up only 27% of Ireland’s workforce. As a result of joining the EEC, Ireland dropped the marriage bar for women working in civil service occupations. The marriage bar forced employed women to resign from their jobs once married. The bar was clearly discriminatory and to the disadvantage of women. Joining the EU also helped Ireland integrate more women into the workforce through gender mainstreaming on all government projects supported by the EU. Gender mainstreaming requires equal opportunities for men and women. Eventually, Ireland extended gender mainstreaming to state projects as well. By 2018, 77.2% of women in Ireland were working.

Unfortunately, despite increased representation in the workforce, the pay gap between men and women did not diminish. Before the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill, the government passed extensive legislation to try to minimize the gap. This includes the Anti-Discrimination Pay Act of 1974 and the Employment Equality Act of 1998. Yet, the pay gap remained substantial.

The Equal Pay Act of 1970 was supposed to regulate the pay gap between men and women. However, employers were able to get around this by changing women’s job titles, reinforcing the gender pay gap decades later. The Equal Pay Act of 1970 legislated equal pay and equal conditions for men and women. The loophole allowed employers to continue discriminatory practices, and decades later, a gender wage gap still exists.

Rectifying the Gender Wage Gap

In previous bills, the wording was often too vague and unspecific so employers could find loopholes to get away with underpaying their female employees. The Gender Pay Gap Information Bill works to narrow these possibilities by using more specific wording to apply to all public bodies. It also grants a minister the ability to get involved with these matters and enforce these rules. The bill also requires companies to report on the payment disparities between employees. Where companies could once get away with payment disparities through bonus packages, the bill eliminates this by holding companies accountable in their reports. Businesses refusing to take a course of action to rectify pay gaps can be held responsible to do so by the government.

The most recent statistic available on the pay gap in Ireland as of 2017 is 14.4%. The EU gender pay gap average was almost 15%, indicating that Ireland is doing better in this regard than other EU states. Further work is necessitated for Ireland to completely eliminate the disparity, but identifying where the problem originates is the first step toward this goal. The Gender Pay Gap Information Bill aims to help close the gap and achieve gender equality.

– Samantha Fazio
Photo: Flickr

The Benefits of Investing in Women
Gender equality, or rather a lack of gender equality, is not simply a historical problem. To this day, women all around the world face inequality. One of the most notable issues pertaining to gender inequality is the gender wage gap. Its impacts affect not only women but society as a whole. To end the gender wage gap and other inequalities, society must start to recognize the benefits of investing in women.

The Gender Wage Gap Explained

There are two types of gender wage gaps. The controlled wage gap refers to when a man and a woman have the same exact job in the same exact industry with the same exact qualifications. In this situation, as of 2021, women earn 98 cents per $1 that men earn. This seemingly small upfront difference builds up over time, and the pay discrepancy leads to very dissimilar outcomes for these two genders.

An uncontrolled wage gap is the second type. The uncontrolled wage gap refers to the overall difference between men’s and women’s wages. It does not matter what job it is, what industry one works in or if one works full- or part-time. The measurement takes into account how much each worker makes on average per hour each year. This gap is much more prominent—a woman makes 82 cents to a man’s $1 as of 2021.

Companies provide several “justifications” for why women receive less pay than men within the organizations, but actual reasons include employers’ implicit biases, a wage penalty that accompanies motherhood and a higher likelihood of women working part-time. This is based on if women have the opportunity to obtain higher-wage jobs within such companies. Often, women are unable to attend school to receive the qualifications necessary for high-skilled work.

These inequalities in labor compensation become more glaringly obvious when it comes to unpaid labor. Women are more than twice as likely as men to participate in unpaid work. Notably, the most frequent unpaid jobs women take on are domestic work and child care. In impoverished communities, women must sacrifice their education to fulfill the expectation to manage the household and raise children.

The Importance of Investing in Women

Beyond equality, investing in women provides a multitude of economic benefits. The unpaid labor women often take on can actually hinder the economy. Economists estimate that unpaid domestic workers—if paid—could constitute approximately 40% of a nation’s GDP. A lack of education for women also plays a role in stunting economies. When women receive education, economies tap into a whole new sector of individuals that bring new, innovative ideas to the table, which help economies grow. Further, studies show that for every 10% of girls enrolled in school in a developing country, the GDP increases long-term by 3%.

In addition to paying women for labor and educating women, it is imperative to give women advancement opportunities. Women make up approximately half of the agricultural labor force but less than 13% of landholders globally. If women obtain the same amount of land, technology and capital as men, there could be an estimated 30% increase in food production. In this way, empowering women could help to substantially reduce world hunger. On the more industrial side, studies show that both efficiency and organization significantly increase when three or more women enter senior positions at companies.

A Better Society For All

Decreasing the wage gap begins in three main areas: women’s unpaid work, education and health. When women in developing countries receive aid and money, the aid does not stop at just the direct beneficiary. Women are likely to extend the benefits to those around them; women tend to invest their earned money into their children’s education and health as well as their own. Giving women financial tools has economic gain for all and promotes economic justice.

The best way to ensure a fair economy is to invest in women, particularly in developing countries. Women should have the opportunity to work the same jobs, receive the same qualifications and have the same economic opportunities as men. Society’s way forward is through taking advantage of the benefits of investing in women.

– Becca Blanke
Photo: Flickr

A New Proposed Bill to End the Gender Pay Gap in the EUIn March 2021, a new law was proposed to end the gender pay gap in the European Union (EU). This bill, written during COVID-19, aims to give more power to job candidates and to employees, especially women. Pushed by the European Commission, this proposed bill is great news for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Gender Pay Gap in the EU

The gender pay gap is the average difference in salaries between men and women. It is a central social and economic issue affecting all EU countries.

The EU consists of 27 member countries. In 2019, all 27 countries showed differences between men’s and women’s hourly incomes with an average of a 14.1% pay gap.

These statistics also highlight gender pay gap differences between EU countries. For instance, Estonia presented a 21.7% gender pay gap — the highest gender pay gap rate in Europe. On the other hand, the top three countries each showed less than 5% pay gap: Italy showed 4.7%, Romania 3.3% and Luxembourg 1.3%.

Making Equality a Priority

These significant differences within the European members underscore the need for the EU to achieve unified and equal salaries between men and women. Although EU countries acknowledge inequalities in salaries, the gender pay gap rate has only minimally improved. The difference between men’s and women’s salaries has decreased by only a point between 2016 and 2019.

Not only will achieving gender wage equality make European societies fairer, but it can also improve their economies. In 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron stated that gender equality makes companies more competitive and productive.

In March 2021, the European Commission proposed a law addressing the gender pay gap issue in Europe. The bill relied on the “equal pay for equal job” principle and would be based on a system of fines for companies that do not respect gender pay equality.

Toward Transparency and Equality

In addition to penalties, the law would require companies to be more transparent about gender pay gaps. Increasing transparency would enable women to acknowledge discrimination and provide them with the information and tools to defend themselves against these inequalities and consequently empower women.

Transparency is a key point of the European bill to end the gender pay gap. It also requires the implementation of strict legal frames. Additionally, the proposed law considers the use of reports and audits, which are both parts of the right to information and can underline potential gender-based discriminations.

Gender Pay Inequality: A Multi-faceted Issue

It remains crucial to tackle invisible facts undermining women’s chances on the job market. For instance, the bill must consider the inequalities in unpaid activities mostly handled by women, like domestic chores or care work. Before COVID-19, women performed on average three times more unpaid work than men. During the pandemic, these numbers increased, especially because more women lost their jobs than men.

The inconsistency of women’s jobs is also crucial. For instance, in 2019, 29% of the gender pay gap in France’s culture-related jobs was due to the gap between full-time and part-time jobs for men and women.

The current pandemic has also underlined significant inequalities in women’s employment situations. During the coronavirus pandemic, a majority of front-line workers were women.

Equal pay between men and women represents a fundamental value of the EU. The “Equal Pay for Equal Work” principle was part of the foundation of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957. However, the gender pay gap remains a complex and systemic problem embedded in European institutions. The law proposed by the European Commission in March 2021 is an essential step toward ending gender-based discrimination on an international level. Closing the gender pay gap in the EU will, in turn, reduce inequalities and increase overall economic productivity.

– Soizic Lecocq
Photo: Flickr

Addressing the Gender Wage Gap In BelgiumEach year, more and more women are retiring in a state of poverty in comparison to their male counterparts. In fact, on a global scale, women are only making $0.77 for each $1.00 that a man earns doing the same work. Despite showing equal effort and skills, women are devalued and insufficiently remunerated. For mothers, the gender pay gap widens even further. Several efforts are working to close the gender wage gap in Belgium.

Starting in 2018, Belgium’s large corporations have agreed to publicize their pay gap statistics. The country’s pay gap averages out to show that a woman’s salary is typically 5.8% lower than a man’s. Holding one of the lowest inequalities in salary, Belgium beats countries such as Sweden or Norway, countries that are known for their gender equality reputation. In fact, only three countries show better results than Belgium: Luxembourg at 1.3%, Romania at 3.3% and Italy at 4.7%. With the average gender gap across the EU being 19.2%, the question of what Belgium is doing differently to support their women is put forth.

Laws Fighting Gender-Based Inequality

Since 2012, Belgium’s legislature has enforced the gender pay gap to be taken into consideration when determining salaries for unions and employers. The Adopted Gender Pay Gap Reduction Act calls for each company to outline the labor cost difference between men and women. This would later be available to the public through the National Bank. Furthermore, the law requires employers to provide an action plan if it is reported that their female employees are earning less than their male counterparts. Women are also encouraged to reach out to their company’s mediator if they feel that they are being discriminated against.

Since 2011, a minimum of one-third of Belgium’s members on the board of directors of various companies and public-sector organizations must be women. To ensure this is being carried out, companies must present annual reports to prove their effectiveness in following the quota.

Additionally, the country’s general anti-discrimination act targets problems stemming from racism. Furthermore, Belgium has a specific law addressing gender-based discrepancies. This act is established to prohibit inequality regarding pregnancy, maternity, gender identity, gender expression or sex changes. These changes have been embedded into the country’s constitution.

Self-Organized Initiatives

Since 2005, progressive women in Belgium have been advocating for equal pay. An annual Equal Pay Day is organized to recognize how much harder women must work to earn the same amount of money as men. Public campaigns and large volunteer-run activities are just a few ways how organizations hope to raise awareness. Countries around the world have since adopted this practice, and it has become an “international source of inspiration.”

These are some ways the gender wage gap in Belgium is closed. However, the goal must be to eradicate the remaining difference of 5.8%. Still, Belgian laws can be an example of how to effectively fight gender inequality and empower women.

– Meghana Nagendra
Photo: Flickr