Gender Wage Gap in Saudi ArabiaThe gender wage gap in Saudi Arabia is an issue that forms part of the country’s gender inequality battles. Despite holding prominent positions in the workforce and making valuable contributions to the country’s economic growth, women continue to receive significantly less pay than their male counterparts. However, progress has been slow and women are still fighting for recognition and regard for their rights in the workforce. The issue of gender inequality in Saudi Arabia has been a long-standing problem with women facing numerous obstacles when it comes to achieving financial equality and more.

The Gender Pay Disparity in Saudi Arabia

In 2019, the Saudi Arabian Human Rights Commission (HRC) published a report revealing a significant wage gap between men and women in the country. The report indicates that women in Saudi Arabia earn only 56% of what men earn, with every one Saudi riyal earned by a man equating to a mere 0.56 riyals for women. The report’s findings prompted calls for change from human rights organizations and advocacy groups. However, despite the widespread attention to this issue, progress toward closing the gender wage gap in Saudi Arabia has been slow.

Apart from the gender wage gap issue, women often face exclusion from higher-paying jobs in sectors such as engineering, finance and technology. Furthermore, women are less likely to receive promotions to leadership positions, which are typically associated with higher salaries.

A study conducted by the King Khalid Foundation in 2020 found that women in Saudi Arabia face underrepresentation in the labor force. The study found that only 22% of working-age women in the country are employed compared to 76% of working-age men. The low participation rate of women in the workforce is partly due to cultural and social barriers that discourage women from pursuing careers outside of the home.

Progress for Women

Despite these challenges, Saudi Arabia has noted some progress in recent years in regard to the gender wage gap in Saudi Arabia. According to a report by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, the gender pay gap in Saudi Arabia decreased by 7% between 2019 and 2021. Furthermore, in 2021, Saudi Arabia climbed 10 ranks in the global ranking of the gender pay gap by the World Economic Forum and advanced 12 ranks in terms of female participation in the workforce.

However, Saudi Arabia still has a long way to go in terms of achieving gender parity in the workplace. In the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2022, Saudi Arabia ranked 127th out of 153 countries. The report highlighted several areas in which Saudi Arabia could improve, including promoting gender equality in the workplace and increasing the participation of women in the labor force.

To address the gender wage gap in Saudi Arabia, a cultural shift that promotes gender equality in the workplace is necessary. Employers need to ensure that women have equal access to career development opportunities and are promoted based on merit rather than gender. Furthermore, the government needs to take steps to encourage more women to enter the workforce, such as providing incentives to companies that employ women and investing in programs that provide training and support to women in the labor force.

The gender wage gap in Saudi Arabia remains a significant issue that requires urgent attention. Women in the country have a right to equal pay for equal work and the country as a whole will benefit from a more diverse and inclusive workforce. By promoting gender equality in the workplace and encouraging more women to enter the labor force, Saudi Arabia can take a significant step toward achieving true gender parity.

– Noura Matalqa
Photo: Flickr

Gender Wage Gap in EgyptEgypt is a country with a rich history and diverse culture. Unfortunately, it holds the title of having the highest gender wage gap. The Global Gender Gap Report 2022, issued by the World Economic Forum, positions Egypt at 129th among the 149 countries evaluated in the 2022 index. Egypt’s wage disparity is the highest with a 3.84 ratio, implying that men earn four times more than women in relation to GDP per capita. The World Bank further highlights gender inequality in the labor market, with women representing only 18% of the total workforce in Egypt in 2022.

Consequences and Economic Impact on the Egyptian Economy

Social context influences labor market competition. In Egypt, women’s limited mobility, childcare responsibilities and masculine work environments hinder their job prospects and contribute to lower pay. The gender wage gap in Egypt has significant consequences on society and the economy. The wage gap exposes discriminatory practices in employment and wages, where women face disadvantages compared to men in earning income.

Furthermore, the World Bank (2021) reported that if female participation in the workforce increased, Egypt’s GDP could potentially grow by 34%. This demonstrates the untapped potential of women’s economic contributions. Women’s active involvement in the financial sector, particularly in executive and board positions, enhances the resilience and stability of the country. According to the World Bank, achieving Egypt’s Vision 2030 requires addressing the underrepresentation of women, especially at senior leadership levels.

Possible Solutions from a Governmental Aspect

The Egyptian National Council for Women (NCW) operates as an independent women’s machinery. The President of the Republic of Egypt affiliates the council, which ensures equal treatment of Egyptian women in political, economic, social and cultural aspects. Additionally, the NCW actively plans for women’s advancement. The NCW actively addresses the gender wage gap and promotes gender equality in the labor market. Furthermore, the NCW introduces Egypt’s Vision 2030, aligning it with the Sustainable Development Strategy to construct a fair and equal society.

In its report to the United Nations, the NCW outlined several measures, including the establishment of a gender-sensitive budgeting system and the development of an action plan to increase women’s representation in decision-making positions. Through entrepreneurship programs, the NCW economically empowered Egyptian women. In April 2022, the Shakia Governate program trained 136,000 women in project management, planning, marketing and entrepreneurship concepts, thereby facilitating networking and providing access to valuable services.

The NCW’s efforts to promote women’s empowerment in Egypt yielded visible progress. From 2015 to 2019, the unemployment rate for females decreased from 12.8% to 7.9%. Additionally, Egypt joined the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC) in 2018, committing to take action to close the gender pay gap by implementing policies, sharing knowledge and mobilizing resources.

Efforts from NGOs and International Organizations

Several international and non-governmental organizations have partnered with Egypt to address the gender wage gap and promote women’s economic empowerment. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been working with the Egyptian government to strengthen women’s participation in the economy by supporting policies and programs that promote gender equality, such as microfinance initiatives and vocational training for women.

USAID empowers women to close the gender wage gap in Egypt by supporting their entrepreneurial ventures. Through initiatives like the Women Entrepreneurs Network and Tiye Angels, 600 successful women-led businesses have emerged since 2017. Additionally, USAID’s Business Development Service Centers have strengthened 650 women-owned micro-enterprises. The Association for Women’s Total Advancement and Development (ATWAD) is another organization working to empower Egyptian women economically. ATWAD provides training, advocacy and capacity building for women to improve their access to resources and opportunities.

Lastly, ABAAD, a regional NGO, aims to achieve gender equality in the Middle East and North Africa region. ABAAD works in Egypt to promote equal opportunities for women in the labor market and to eliminate gender-based violence, which is a significant barrier to women’s economic participation.

Looking Ahead

Efforts to address the gender wage gap and promote women’s economic empowerment in Egypt are gaining momentum. Initiatives led by the Egyptian National Council for Women, along with collaborations with international organizations like USAID and ABAAD, are making a difference. Progress has been seen in reducing female unemployment rates and increasing women’s representation in decision-making positions. With continued commitment and support, Egypt is on the path towards achieving greater gender equality, unlocking the untapped potential of women and fostering a fair and inclusive society.

– Tanya Hamad
Photo: Flickr

SDG1 and SDG5In 2015, the leaders of 191 United Nations (U.N.) member states came together to develop the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 global objectives that aim to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure peace and prosperity for all by 2030. Among these goals, SDG1 and SDG5 are particularly interrelated and mutually reinforcing. SDG1 focuses on eradicating extreme poverty and reducing inequality, while SDG5 promotes gender equality and women’s empowerment. According to the U.N., by tackling these two goals simultaneously, the world can achieve a more inclusive and sustainable development that benefits everyone, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized groups.

Patterns of Progress 

According to the U.N., global poverty has vastly decreased since the 1990s, with 44% of the population living below the poverty line in 1991 compared to 15% in 2016. However, the pandemic significantly reversed this progress, increasing global poverty by 9% between 2019 and 2020.

The progress of SDG5 mirrors this pattern. The U.N. reports that since 2000, there has also been a vast improvement globally regarding gender equality. For instance, women’s role and representation in parliament have increased from 9.1 % in 2000 to 20.9% in 2020. However, much like with SDG1, the pandemic significantly pushed progress backward

To achieve SDG1, U.N. Women emphasizes the importance of working toward a future free of gender inequalities and inequities. Ending poverty “in all its forms everywhere”, requires countries to make efforts towards reaching SDG1 and SDG5 simultaneously.

Country Insight: Bangladesh

According to the World Bank, Bangladesh is a developing country. One of the fastest-growing economies in the world, Bangladesh aims to become an upper-middle-income country by 2031. Regarding SDG1 and SDG5, Bangladesh has “significant challenges” along the way. Whilst encouraging progress has been made to eradicate poverty in the country, progress on achieving gender equality is slower. To achieve SDG1, Bangladesh must improve its score for SDG5. There were 1627 rapes reported throughout the country in 2020 alone, though it is widely known that many instances of assault go unreported.

Links Between SDGs in Bangladesh

Reports suggest that one of the ways that SDG1 and SDG5 can work hand in hand is through the introduction of women into an equitable and inclusive workplace. However, in the context of employment in Bangladesh, there are many instances of gender-based violence in the workplace. For instance, a report detailing the experiences of women working in the Ready-Made Garments sector in Bangladesh reveals that it is an industry rife with “sexual harassment, pay inequity and improper benefits”. Links between poverty reduction and equal opportunities for women are widespread in the literature, and women in Bangladesh have the opportunity to work. This highlights a need for the country to focus on women’s equality of voice and equality under the law.

Looking Ahead

In striving to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the interlinkage between SDG1 and SDG5 is crucial, as emphasized by the United Nations. While progress has been made globally in reducing poverty and promoting gender equality, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed significant setbacks. Bangladesh, a developing country, faces challenges in achieving both goals, with the need to address issues of gender-based violence and empower women in the workplace. Overall, acknowledging how SDG1 and SDG5 synergize could open up the path to a more sustainable and inclusive future.

–        Eloïse Jones


Photo: flickr

Gender Wage Gap in Nigeria 
International Women’s Day is a worldwide celebration of women and an opportunity to talk about the importance of gender equality. The theme for International Women’s Day 2023, celebrated on March 8, was the potential of innovation and technology for furthering gender equality. A look into issues surrounding the gender wage gap in Nigeria reveals why this theme was so important.

Gender Equality in Nigeria

The World Economic Forum (WEF) defines the gender wage gap as the difference between average male and female wages, divided by the average male wage. Analyzing the gender wage gap highlights the issues surrounding unequal pay for men and women who work in similar roles. Though statistics on the gender wage gap are more consistently and accurately reported in OECD nations, the WEF estimated that in sub-Saharan Africa in 2021, women received 32.7% less pay than men who held similar positions. Comparatively, the average gender wage gap in the European Union was 10.6% in 2021.

Ranking 123 out of 146 countries in the 2022 Global Gender Gap Report, Nigeria has a long way to go when it comes to gender equality. However, in 2022, the country ranked 16 places higher than the previous year, evidence of the momentum in Nigeria to address the country’s gender inequality. One of the most significant breakthroughs has been a recognition of the importance of women using technology.

The Reason Technology is So Important

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have unlocked a new world of opportunities while also creating a further barrier to development and growth for those who cannot access them. This barrier divides, not only along economic lines but also along gendered ones; the creation and use of ICT continue to be male-dominated. As technology plays an increasingly prevalent role in our personal and professional development, equal access to ICT is crucial for achieving future equitable development across the globe.

In Nigeria, ICT availability and accessibility, or lack thereof, among women and girls have played a key role in perpetuating the gender gap. The ability to use and understand ICT is critical to women’s progress in such areas as education, employment, innovation, independence, health and financial stability. Yet, the gap between male and female ICT literacy rates in Nigeria is 48.6%, highlighting the inequitable barriers that women face in their personal and professional development. Investment in this area has the potential to help significantly reduce, not only the gender wage gap but the many other areas of gender inequality that persist in Nigeria.


Awareness of this issue in Nigeria has been a significant driver of recent progress. In 2006, the Nigerian Government established a Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), which aimed to provide everyone with basic internet and telephone service access. As of 2018, Nigeria was one of only three African nations whose USPF specifically referenced the importance of closing the divide in access between men and women. The Nigerian USPF is used to support projects such as the Rural Broadband Initiative and the E-accessibility project. By 2021, 219,000 Nigerian citizens had benefitted from digital training as a result of USPF initiatives.

Research suggests that the following steps could lead to huge progress in closing the digital gender divide:

  • Widening access to the internet
  • Using more accessible, gender-sensitive language and content
  • Educating women in digital literacy
  • Addressing cultural attitudes and concerns around women using the internet
  • Improving infrastructure

These aims are only achievable, however, through collaboration between domestic and international agencies, government bodies and businesses.

Between 2018 and 2020, Equal Access International partnered with USAID to develop the Tech4Families initiative, which aimed to reduce the digital gender divide by addressing the barriers to women and girls accessing technology at the family level. The first aspect of the project was a 12-part radio program that discussed women in the world of technology, and the second aspect consisted of focus groups that brought family members together. Through the focus groups, Tech4Families enabled families to reflect on the barriers women face when using ICT, discuss practical ways to tackle them, and plan outreach activities to share their new attitudes and ideas with the wider community.

Tech4Families led to significant shifts in community attitudes toward female use of technology in Northern Nigeria, where more than 60% of women do not have access to the internet. By the end of the project, 50% of women and 80% of girls who participated shared that they felt empowered and encouraged to use technology at home. One family member shared that the work of Tech4Families made them “want to put more effort into ensuring that women use the internet in [their] home and workplace.”

While there is much more action that the global community must take, the momentum to increase ICT accessibility among women and girls marks a turning point for decreasing the gender wage gap in Nigeria.

Polly Walton
Photo: Flickr

Gender Pay Gap in Czechia
Despite Czechia’s overall steady economic status, the gender wage gap in Czechia is still a prominent issue. According to EU statistics, in 2021, women in Czechia received 19.5% lower pay than men on average in private sector work and 12.2% lower in public sector work. Overall, on average, women in Czechia earned 16.4% less than men compared to the overall EU average of women earning 13.0% less. These figures put Czechia toward the bottom of EU countries regarding gender equality and Czech women are twice as likely to face poverty than Czech men.

Barriers to Equality

Several factors contribute to the gender wage gap in Czechia. These factors include women taking career breaks due to maternity leave and childcare, the perception of men as “more ambitious and aggressive” in climbing up the job ladder and higher paid roles, such as management roles, being typically male-dominated.

Hiring managers sometimes have reservations about hiring a woman considering that a female may require time off for maternity leave and childcare. In the eyes of a business, this means wasting time and resources on training a woman for the role because the business may need to conduct further training of additional staff to cover her work during her time off.

Additionally, in Czechia, women typically shoulder the burden of household and caretaking responsibilities. As such, women have less time to focus on their careers, according to Radio Prague International.

Single-Parent Families

According to Czech’s Women’s Lobby, almost 90% of single-parent families in Czechia are female-headed. Furthermore, up to 20% of single-parent families are likely to fall below the poverty line due to a reduced income and the costs associated with raising and caring for children. Single mothers also frequently rely on low-paid, often part-time, work with unreliable schedules to fit around their children’s lives, which further increases their risk for poverty.

As society often considers men as more ambitious in their jobs, men are sometimes seen as “more competent and assertive” than their female counterparts. These gender stereotypes similarly play into the assumptions of different types of jobs being suitable for men and women, meaning men will often end up in higher-paying roles, reinforcing the gender wage gap in Czechia. However, evidence shows that, even in the same roles, women in Czechia can expect a 12% pay cut compared to a man’s wage. Closing the gender wage gap will help women in Czechia to stay above the poverty line.

Pay Transparency and Fairness

In December 2022, European Parliament and the Czech presidency came to a provisional agreement on rules of pay transparency. This will prevent employers from adjusting salaries depending on whether a man or woman secures the job. “To avoid discrimination, employers have to make sure their employees have easy access to the objective and gender-neutral criteria they use to define pay and possible pay rises. Workers and their representatives will also have the right to request and receive information on their individual pay level and the average pay levels for workers doing the same work or work of equal value, broken down by sex,” the Council of the EU explains. In the case that an employer has not followed the rules of the equal pay principle, workers will be able to claim compensation.

A more even split between genders in parental care and housework tends to be more common among younger generations, which will help to balance out the time available for women to focus on their careers. By dissolving gender stereotypes, women will be able to achieve career fulfillment, which may include higher-paid roles traditionally held by men.

– Hannah Naylor
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Gender Gap Wage in MoroccoIn 2015, the women’s labor force participation rate in Morocco stood at 26%, among the lowest in the world. This percentage had not evolved since 1990, and in 2020, it had decreased to a low point of 23.1%. This data confirms the findings of the 2022 report from the High Commission for Planning (HCP), the body responsible for producing official statistics in Morocco, showing that “[eight] out of 10 women in the country remain outside the labor market.” The HCP also published a report on multidimensional women’s poverty in Morocco measuring four dimensions: education, health, economic activity and living conditions. It showed an improvement in the incidence of multidimensional poverty among women aged 18 and over with a 2021 national level of 16.5% versus 18.1% in 2014. However, it also found that COVID-19 had set the country back six years in terms of efforts to fight female poverty. On top of this, the gender wage gap in Morocco is still significant.

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Society Norms

The conditions for working women indeed worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic as women held most of the jobs in impacted sectors and the informal economy, leading to a loss of income and employment.

Societal gender norms dictate that females shoulder the burden of childcare and housework. For women who do develop ambitions, the lack of childcare support facilities and traditional societal norms often stop them from following these ambitions, expecting them to sustain the bulk of the domestic burden. U.N. Women data indeed shows that women and girls aged 15+ spend on average 20.8% of their time on unpaid domestic chores and care work compared to less than 3% for men.

Marital-Status Gap

The World Bank’s 2015 report on the societal benefits of empowering women revealed a stark “marital-status gap” — the “relative difference in labor force participation between married and never-married women.” This gap goes up to 70% in Morocco, suggesting that most women who enter the workforce, exit it after marriage. This is primarily a result of the profoundly entrenched gender roles in Moroccan society as married women shoulder even more of the domestic burden than unmarried women.

Women are overrepresented in informal employment with 65% of women working in precarious labor or unpaid employment compared to 37% of men, according to USAID. Women also reap lower returns for their work with a gender wage gap of up to 77%. In rural areas, 96% of women with low levels of education work in basic-level farming while in urban areas women with secondary education seldom join the labor force as their access to “suitable jobs” is limited, according to the World Bank.

Steps Forward

Though data to monitor a positive evolution is lacking, Morocco has shown a willingness to follow “various conventions, declarations, recommendations and resolutions concerning women’s rights” that the U.N. introduced. In the early 2000s, the U.N. pointed out that Morocco has strengthened its gender equality-related legal framework, institutionalizing equality and parity as constitutional values and adopting a set of laws and reforms as well as an integrated public policy for equality and programs for the promotion of women’s rights. However, these reform efforts have often taken place in a complex political climate that sometimes opposes a reform agenda to support women’s economic empowerment.

For these gender equality and women empowerment initiatives to be effective, Morocco will need to implement them in a systemic way. Since 1985, the Democratic Association of Moroccan Women (ADFM) has made significant achievements by partnering with other women’s associations to advance women’s rights in the region. ADFM has among else campaigned to reform the Moroccan social security system, promoting debates aimed at protecting vulnerable women workers by ensuring systemic gender equality, which will reduce the gender wage gap in Morocco, among other benefits.

The Future

In the 2021 World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index, Morocco ranked 140th out of 149 countries. Due to tradition and social norms, only a very small share of Moroccan women work and those who do work face high inequalities when it comes to employment access and remuneration. However, initiatives implemented over the past decade look to evolve the societal mindset and align the Moroccan legal framework with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, specifically gender equality.

It is worth noting that empowering women, encouraging them to join the workforce and reducing the gender wage gap in Morocco is not only just but also economically wise. The OECD found in 2020 that if women played an “identical role in labor markets as men,” the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regions could see substantial macroeconomic gains with a boost of up to 47% to their gross domestic product (GDP).

– Hanna Bernard
Photo: Flickr

Gender Wage Gap in Mexico
The wages men and women receive vary in most parts of the world. Mexico is a prime example of this; women in Mexico have significantly lower wages than men. Women’s protests have shed light on the inequity of the gender wage gap in Mexico, prompting government officials to work to protect their right to equal pay and employment access.

Tradition and the Economy

Across the globe, women on average are paid on average 20% less than men, even when they are working the same jobs. In Mexico, that gap is roughly 15.6%. Unequal pay creates significant impacts on the number of women who choose to work. Gender pay inequality also contributes to greater oppression of women in the workforce.

The culture of a given community contributes greatly to female labor force participation. Traditional Mexican culture promotes a patriarchal ideology where society expects women to be caretakers. It is because of this that most women take on domestic jobs, such as childcare or cleaning, which are often unpaid. Women also find themselves working in street markets, selling their home-grown produce to provide additional income to support their families.

The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the economic conditions that the lack of female employment caused. The pandemic caused inflation in Mexico to rise to its highest point in 20 years. Having increased by 5% since 2020, Mexican households are having to pay more for necessities such as food and gas.

In Mexico, women compromise less than half of the total labor force. When women are paid 85 pesos per every 100 pesos made by working-class men for the same work, it seems more financially prudent for mothers to stay home rather than pay for childcare. To put this in perspective, in a given job, a man may earn $5.13 per hour, whereas a woman will earn $4.36 despite performing the same labor. This disproportion in wages has made it extremely difficult for women to become financially independent.

Women that do make it into the labor force also find more barriers to advancement than their male counterparts. Women in entry-level positions in industries such as retail do not obtain promotions as often as men do. Recent data that McKinsey and Company collected determined that only 8% of women receive promotions to higher positions within their given field. This inevitable glass ceiling hinders women’s ability for upward mobility.

Bridging the Gender Wage Gap in Mexico

Recent awareness on this topic has led to the development of federal programs that assist women wishing to progress in male-dominated industries. Now, more than ever, working-class women are being more aware of their rights to paid labor as well as the gender wage gap. Moreover, the Mexican Supreme Court is also promoting specific legislation that would protect women employees and ensure equal pay. In 2019, the Mexican government enacted the Social Protection Program. The International Labor Organization (ILO) funded the Social Protection Program which ensures that working-class women receive a minimum wage while also having access to benefits such as health care and pensions. This protection serves as an important stepping stone to ensuring women receive equal treatment in the workplace.

A recent survey that the firm ManpowerGroup conducted found that 64% of Mexican organizations are aiming to increase the number of women in positions that men traditionally held. One example is the Mexican Football Federation which has set strict salary constraints for female athletes. Before, men in the Mexican Football league made nearly 200 times more than women. The updated conditions ensure female athletes a wage equal to that of male players.

The gender wage gap in Mexico has been slowly decreasing over the past two decades. Increasing awareness of the inequality between working men and women is helping to shed light on the disparities in Mexican society. The actions of the government have inspired hope that Mexican legislation will continue to promote gender inclusivity in the workplace and reduce the pay gap.

– Micaela Carrillo
Photo: Flickr

Gender Wage Gap in Kenya
The gender wage gap refers to the “difference between average gross hourly earnings of male-paid employees and female-paid employees as a percentage of average gross hourly earnings of male-paid employees.” It exists because some men and women receive a different amount of money for work of comparable value. This wage gap is both the “cause and consequence” of gender inequality. There are many reasons for the gender wage gap in Kenya, and although they exist in other nations around the world, it is more acute in developing countries. The East African nation is more gender unequal than its counterparts in the developed world, meaning that most women are employed in lower-paid work where they work for longer hours. This is before they have to go home and complete the rest of their daily domestic and childcare responsibilities.

The Kenyan Context

Over the last three decades, efforts have occurred to close the gender wage gap in Kenya, representing a struggle within the East African nation. In 1993, the government Task Force for the Review of Laws Relating to Women originated to help foster women’s equal participation in society and economic empowerment. In 2007, the government enacted the Employment Act, which promised all employees fundamental rights,  basic working conditions and pay.

Nevertheless, this legislation has not been fruitful in achieving pay parity for women. In 2019, Equileap published a report on gender equality in Kenya, finding that on average, women earn 32% less than their male counterparts, compared to 23% globally. This disproportion means that the country sits at the 20th position on the Global Gender Gap Index of 2020, behind the other East African nations of Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia. Compared to the rest of the world, Kenya ranks 109 out of 153 countries, a 33-position drop compared to 2018.

The informal economy in Kenya is a significant employer for women, with 87% being employed within it. Despite this importance, the sector lacks standard employment contracts, social protection and adequate pay, meaning that women are unable to obtain a decent livelihood, let alone have the same level of income as men.

Reasons Why the Gender Wage Gap Persists in Kenya

Here are the three main reasons why the gender wage gap is prevalent in Kenya.

  1. The Inability of Women to Effectively Negotiate Their Pay. Women tend to misunderstand or underestimate their own value, compared to men. This means that even if they are successful in the pay negotiation process, they often shy away, being happy with less than what men have satisfaction with.
  2. Gender Insensitivity Persists in Workplaces. Like the rest of the world, organizations and businesses in Kenya operate in a structured way. As a result, women often join at the bottom of the scale, while men join at the middle or top end. Women also experience disadvantages due to child-rearing responsibilities, pregnancy and maternity leave, all of which can set them back on the career ladder.
  3. The Presence of Bias in Workplaces. Small and medium-sized enterprises provide formal employment for a large proportion of the Kenyan population. Regardless, less than 5% of these companies have female chairs. Furthermore, in the 1980s, women did not receive benefits as authorities assumed that their husbands would provide their insurance and allowance, a view that many still accept today.

The U.N. estimates that closing the gender wage gap in the East African nation is an essential way to achieving gender-related SDG commitments.” Many organizations have grasped this reality to tackle this issue. They include:

Womankind Worldwide

 In 2010, the Kenyan government passed a new constitution which was the first in its history to recognize gender equality. Key statements as part of this included:

  • Every person is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law.
  • Equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and fundamental freedoms.
  • Women and men have the right to equal treatment, including the right to equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres.

Womankind Worldwide started working in Kenya after the promises created in this constitution remained unmet; women are still unable to make key decisions that impact their lives and communities. The organization has vowed to support women’s rights activists in the country so that the barriers that women and girls are facing can reduce.

In reference to the gender wage gap in Kenya, Womankind Worldwide has urged  ‘gender responsive’ action for businesses. This includes reviewing existing activities (such as pay and promotion) that undergird institutionalized forms of gender inequalities.

Kenya Female Advisory Organisation (KEFEADO)

In 1994, Dolphine Okech and her daughter Dr. Jane Okech, both of whom were educationalists that committed themselves to gender equality, founded KEFEADO in Kisumu, Kenya. The NGO exists to “promote gender equity, equal opportunities and rights for all” so that it can change cultural attitudes towards issues such as sexual abuse, gender-based violence and employment equality. It is working to develop gender rights policies that bridge pay inequality gaps along with ensuring that institutions respond to the specific needs of special interest groups, namely women and youth. It is also aiming to end disparities in education, health and work.

Regarding the gender wage gap in Kenya, KEFEADO has advocated for gender-responsive budgeting (GRB). In 2020, the organization organized a three-day training for members of the Kisumu county assembly as a way of advocating and fighting for employment equality between men and women. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded the event. Overall, the training was a success as this budgeting was fast-tracked.

National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC)

In 2011, the National Gender and Equality and Commission Act established the NGEC, following Article 249 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010. As a Constitutional Commission, the NGEC focuses on promoting constitutionalism, democratic values and principles, and protecting the sovereignty of the people, especially in relation to the marginalized. This includes women, youth, children, minorities and older members of society.

According to this mandate, the NGEC has successfully mainstreamed issues of gender and women in national and county policies, laws and administrative rules. Gender mainstreaming is a core function of this, and they use it to ensure that the concerns that both men and women experience are frontal in all spheres such as economic, political and societal. One way that it has achieved this is through raising awareness. As per the 2019-2024 Strategic Plan for Gender Equality and Non-Discrimination, the organization proposes that educating and partnering up with the public is a good way to raise consciousness on such issues (including the gender wage gap).

Over these last few decades, the gender wage gap in Kenya has appeared to have worsened. Although this is true to an extent, there is now much more awareness and understanding of the issue. Furthermore, the ascent of organizations fighting for pay parity in Kenya presents an optimistic future, one where pay is gender equality and women are obtaining the same financial remuneration as their male counterparts.

– Harkiran Bharij
Photo: Flickr

Gender Wage Gap in Canada
The gender wage gap in Canada between men and women is due to several factors including gender roles in the workplace and how employers advertise job listings. Here is some information about the gender wage gap in Canada and some suggestions on how to eliminate it.

The Gender Wage Gap’s Presence in the Workforce

In the past 70 years, women have joined the workforce in increasing numbers, despite it previously including mostly men. As the Canadian Women’s Foundation reported in 1950, about 21.6% between the age range of 25 to 54 had employment. The number increased to 82% in 2015. Despite the slight growth, the gender wage gap in Canada is still present. Data from the year 2018 from Statistics Canada displayed the economic disparities between women and men. For every dollar a man receives, a woman earns 87 cents, which is a difference of $4.13 per hour if a man makes $31.05 and a woman makes $26.92.

Another example of wage disparities is a report from Robyn Doolittle, a writer for the Globe and Mail who reported that in February, women made 25% less than their male peers who made $200,000. Jodie Primeau, who works at Deep River, Ontario’s Primeau Law Professional Corporation, stated that gender wage segregation, the way others treat women in the law firm and how customers view women lawyers all play into the gender wage gap.

Gender wage segregation is where people view certain jobs as acceptable for women such as roles as assistants, receptionists and clerks. As a result, women often fill these roles at legal firms, which tend to be lower paying than other positions.

The way others treat women in the law firm impacts their wages in that in corporate law, they may end up with tasks like research letters rather than legal documents. The circumstance of how women are socialized to accept certain kinds of work could potentially lead them to make less money.

The way that customers view women lawyers may influence their success in the workplace as well. After a male lawyer sent emails with his female coworker’s signature, he found that clients were more difficult and required more explanation than when he signed emails with his own name.

Recommended Steps to Ensure Pay Equality in the Workplace

The gender wage gap in Canada is a major problem with the salary for women being 12.1% less than their male counterparts. Despite earning degrees and working in fields having a much higher income, women are still earning half of their male counterparts instead of earning the same amount. On June 1, 2022, Canada requires employees to submit income data indicating the wage gap. Doing so will display the unjust reality of what women go through despite having the qualifications to work.

The Toronto Star, a news site, suggested four steps to eliminate the wage gap. The first step is to inspect how wages differ between men and women who work in similar jobs. The second suggestion is for job listings to indicate the pay range for the role which should prevent women from asking for too little when negotiating for a job. For the third step, the Toronto Star recommended that is for job listings not include present-day or preceding wages as it is not important to employees. Some states in the U.S. have placed a ban on including wage history in job postings and have seen a low rate of pay discrepancies between men and women. The final step is for employers to promote fairness by hiring a range of people from different backgrounds.

The Ontario Equal Pay Coalition

The Ontario Equal Pay Coalition has been working to resolve the gender wage gap. This coalition is a collection of trade unions and other organizations that promote pay equity for employees including women. Since its beginning in 1976, it had a role in promoting increases in the minimum wage, restoring the province of Ontario’s Employment Equity Act and encouraging the Pay Equity Act. 

The Equal Pay Coalition compiled four steps to close the gender wage gap in Canada. Here are its recommendations.

  1. Spread its campaign materials regarding the gender wage gap on social media.
  2. Encourage political candidates to advocate for women’s rights.
  3. Send a letter to an editor to help raise awareness about the issue.
  4. Organize an event to raise awareness.

Despite wage disparities between men and women and gender roles in the workforce, the steps that the Ontario Equal Pay Coalition recommended should help reduce the gender wage gap and promote awareness of the issue.

– Jacara Watkins
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Gender wage gap in South KoreaSouth Korea has been ranking at the top in the gender wage gap for over 30 years since joining the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1997. In 2020, South Korean men earned 31.5% more than women. Although it has made significant achievements in enhancing gender equity, in 1997 the gender wage gap in South Korea was over 40%, the East Asian country is still trying to protect female employees’ rights in the workplace to enhance productivity and narrow the gender wage gap.

Gender Disparities in the Workforce

Not only do men on average earn over 30% more than women, but female workforce participation is also 20% lower than male participation.  From 2009 – 2019 the participation rate inched up only to be decimated during the pandemic. That’s because, despite the fact that South Korea has a higher than average female rate with tertiary education, most South Koren women work in the lower-paying service sectors such as wholesale and retail sales and the food sector —  many of these businesses shut down during COVID-19 lockdowns. Quality child care is difficult to access, and that leads to many South Korean women staying home with their children rather than returning to the workforce.

Birthrate Drop

Even before the pandemic, a birthrate drop has been one social problem plaguing South Korea. In 2020, the average number of children a woman has in her lifetime dropped to .84. This was down from .92 in 2019, but the rate has been declining for years, with 2020 being the third year in a row where the rate was below 1%. Analysts fear that the declining birthrate will have dire economic consequences as South Korea’s population ages.

Financial Incentives for Parental Leave

Due to the declining birthrate, in 2020 South Korea instituted new financial incentives for families to have children. On top of the $91 monthly allowance for all children under seven years, the government now gives an additional cash bonus of $275 a month for the first year for all new babies starting in 2022. Unfortunately, as a 2022 study underlined, the longer a woman takes for maternity leave, the wider the wage gap between her and her male counterparts.  Lower wages, less prestigious jobs and fewer benefits await women when they return from their maternity leave, according to the study.

Though South Korea allows men to take parental leave, the percentage of leave taken was 24.5% in 2020. Recently, the government has initiated new policies to encourage men to take more parental leave, such as paying three months of salary. When both parents take their parental leave during the first year of their child’s birth, they will receive 100% of their monthly income, rather than previously, when only one parent received 100% while the other received 80%. 

Combat Effects of the Pandemic

Not only did South Korean women suffer more job losses than men during the pandemic, they felt the brunt of caretaking responsibility for their children and older family members who fell ill.  During the first six months of 2020, 56% of South Korean women said they increased their work related to taking care of their family, and 62% of Koreans taking family leave that year were women.

To address the pandemic’s greater effect on women, the South Korean government introduced unemployment subsidies and expanded childcare leave to 10 days in the early stages of the pandemic. It has also emphasized offering financial support to small and medium enterprises unlikely to manage the economic shocks under the pandemic and providing cash support to households.

Reduce Gender discrimination in the Workplace

In addition to its efforts to combat the effects of the pandemic, in 2021 government enacted new policies to reduce the gender wage gap in South Korea. First, it raised the 2022 minimum wage by roughly 5% from the previous figure. Also, for the first time, employees will be able to petition the Labor Relations Commission for relief in gender discrimination and sexual harassment cases, and the available remedies will include damages.

The Labor Standards Act now also provides pregnant female employees with a right to change their start and end times of daily work while keeping the required working hours. The employer cannot refuse the request unless the changed hours would seriously interfere with the regular operation of the business. Also, private companies with five to 29 employees must now provide holiday pay for public holidays.

Importantly, the government continues to focus on gender mainstreaming.  The Framework Act of Gender Equality which was revised in 2014 focuses on enhancing women’s status in the workplace.  It also enacted a gender-impact analysis and assessment in 2011, and in 2018 alone put in place over 2600 policy changes as a result of that assessment. Finally, gender-responsive budgeting demands that both national and local governments distribute national resources evenly to men and women.

Looking Forward

As South Korea’s population continues to shrink, continuing to narrow the gender wage gap in South Korea will be increasingly important for social and economic reasons.  The government measures including parental subsidies, raising the minimum wage and gender mainstreaming should help, but sustained diligence is crucial. As the OECD comments, however: “In order to successfully overcome the current challenges that Korean society currently confronts, employing these very educated but underutilized human resources is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do.”

– Shiyu Pan
Photo: Wikimedia