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

Gender Wage Gap in Australia
Australia has the world’s 13th-largest economy by gross domestic product (GDP) in 2022. Nonetheless, there is a significant gender wage gap in Australia. According to the Australian Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), the gender wage gap is the difference in average earnings between females and males. A variety of factors contribute to reduced wages for women in comparison to men, causing the former to lag behind economically. In this sense, Australia is setting forward further acts to close the gap, given its previous shortcomings.


Over the last two decades, the gender wage gap in Australia has varied from 13% to 19%. According to the latest data from November 2021, the gender pay gap stands at 13.8%, which WGEA measured with information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). As of November 2021, “women’s average weekly total full-time earnings are $316.80 less” than men. For women who work part-time, “women’s average weekly total earnings are $483.30 less per week than men.” The World Economic Forum’s 2021 Global Gender Gap Report ranked Australia 50th out of 156 nations, much lower than Australia’s 15th ranking in 2006.

Contributing Factors to the Gender Wage Gap in Australia

The WGEA 2021 report lists four major culprits behind the gender wage gap in Australia:

  1. Discrimination in workplace recruitment and wage/salary decisions.
  2. Gender-dominant industries, “with female-dominated industries and jobs attracting lower wages.”
  3. Women bear the burden of unpaid childcare with inadequate job flexibility “to accommodate these responsibilities,” especially in higher-level job roles.
  4. Women require more time outside of the labor force, which detrimentally affects their career advancement and opportunities for progression.

Disrupted Past Actions

Australia stood as a pioneer in implementing laws to uphold the principle “equal pay for equal work” in 1969 as well as 1972, later bringing gender equality reporting in 1986. In 2012, the Workplace Gender Equality Act came into operation, asking employers to file an annual report with WGEA containing “data by gender on remuneration, workforce composition and the recruitment, promotions and resignations of their employees.”

Furthermore, in 2017, the government introduced “Towards 2025: An Australian Government strategy to boost women’s workforce participation,” with the aim to close the gender gap in workforce participation by 25% by the year 2025. This would equate to adding 200,000 Australian females to the nation’s workforce.

Indeed, the early results were promising, with the national gender pay gap decreasing from 18.6% (2014) to 14.1% (2018). That said, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic stifled progress, resulting in a minor increase to 14.2% (2021), indicating that full-time working Australian women would have had to work an additional 61 days in a period of 12 months to earn the equivalent of a male in the same position.

COVID-19 aside, Australia lacked transparency and accountability in terms of action to create change, despite “a world-leading dataset on workplace gender equality.” The incentives or penalties introduced by the nation were not effective enough to alter behavior on an organizational level. Specifically, the country only insisted on large-scale, private corporations reporting on gender equality, meaning many other entities did not have equal gender equality responsibilities.

Looking Ahead

As Australia’s economy recovers from the pandemic, Danielle Wood, CEO of Melbourne’s Grattan Institute, recommended in a report that “the Federal Government supports women’s jobs by making a longer-term investment in childcare to encourage women’s workforce participation.”

The Australian government gives the main caretaker of a newborn or adopted child 18 weeks of paid parental leave. Australian women utilize about 98% of Australia’s government-financed paid parental leave.

On May 9, 2022, the Australian Greens political party released a policy to raise wages in female-dominated industries, namely nursing, childcare and education, with the first and foremost purpose to force the gender wage gap in Australia to narrow.

Regarding transparency and accountability, the WGEA is taking action to ensure gender equality and close the gender pay gap. Established in 1986, the WGEA uses data-driven strategies to create change. The agency utilizes four main strategies to address the gender wage gap and gender inequality as a whole.

These consist of helping employers fulfill reporting requirements under the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 and publishing lists of non-compliant organizations to push for change. In addition, the organization runs a Pay Equity Ambassador program so that leaders within businesses can influence and promote pay equity within the workplace. Furthermore, standout organizations receive an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (EOCGE) citation award to recognize efforts to advance equality and encourage commitments to transformative change.

The ongoing efforts to bridge the gender wage gap in Australia, particularly those efforts learned from past experiences, promise a bright future in which women and men receive equal payment and treatment.

– Lan Nguyen
Photo: Unsplash

Women's Rights in Denmark
Denmark is well-known as an egalitarian society with a generous welfare system that provides equal opportunities for men and women to thrive. However, in recent years, the nation’s efforts in advancing women’s rights in Denmark have been progressing slower in comparison to neighboring Scandinavian regions of Sweden and Norway. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021 report ranked Denmark 29th for gender equality out of 258 nations, down from 14th place in 2020.

Political Participation

In 1814, Denmark passed a law on “universal primary education,” granting children irrespective of gender the right to seven years of education. This was the beginning of gender equality efforts in Denmark.

In Denmark’s 1849 and 1866 constitutions, “political engagement was reserved for men over the age of 30 who headed their own households.” In 1871, the Danish Women’s Society emerged to promote social change for women through advocacy and legislation. In addition, in 1915, Denmark through the “democracy constitution” granted women the right to vote and run for the parliamentary election.

Then, in 1924, Denmark appointed Nina Bang as minister of education, becoming “the world’s first female minister in a country with parliamentary democracy.” Women’s rights in Denmark have continued to evolve and advance over the years considering the increased level of women’s involvement in social causes and politics. Denmark elected the country’s first female prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, in 2011. In addition, Denmark elected Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen as the second female prime minister and current Danish leader in 2019.

Gender Equality

The 1999 Amsterdam Treaty of the European Union influenced the gender equality legislation in Denmark. The Amsterdam Treaty “promotes respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms into the formal structure of the EU. It also strengthens and focuses the European commitment to gender equality and extends the equality principle beyond the workplace.”

Efforts to achieve gender parity in Denmark have focused for many years on women’s participation in public life and the decision-making process. The traditional independence of Danish women influenced women’s integration in the decision-making process. In 1999, the Danish government, in its effort to strengthen and promote equal gender participation, appointed a minister for gender equality to advance women’s rights in Denmark.

In furtherance of these efforts, the Danish parliament amended provisions of the Act on Gender Equality. The legislation “provides for promotion of gender equality, including equal integration, equal influence and equality in all functions of society on the basis of women’s and men’s equal status.” ​​

Gender Wage Gap

In 2020, out of 3 million people who registered in the Danish labor force, females made up 47%. The increased influx of women’s participation in the workforce demonstrates that females have strong representation in the labor market.

Despite this increase in labor participation, Denmark has stalled in its efforts to reduce gender wage gap differences. The Global Gender Gap Report for 2021 revealed a 38% income gap between men and women.

Experts attribute inequality in pay to gender segregation in labor participation. Danish women are more likely to hold public-sector jobs “while men are more likely to work in the private sector” and in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs.

The Public Servant Reform Act of 1969 paved the way for an unequal labor market as well. This law assigned job sectors that female employees commonly dominate, such as nursing, childcare and education, to lower wages than jobs that are more male-dominated, such as law enforcement. Furthermore, working long hours and employment pressures exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic worsened the disparity in income and the gains achieved in enhancing women’s rights in Denmark.

Parental Leave

Denmark has a flexible parental leave system as do neighboring Nordic countries Sweden and Norway. In 2019, Denmark’s Parliament expanded parental leave to “24 weeks of leave per parent, 13 of which are transferable, for a total of 48 weeks of leave combined.” This is a significant departure from the previous policy of 32 total weeks of paid leave. Parents receive entitlements to a combined parental leave benefit for 52 weeks. To qualify for parental leave benefits, certain employment duration requirements are necessary. The expanded parental leave will provide equal opportunities to integrate work and life balance for parents.

Looking Ahead

Danish society places a high value on equal opportunities for women with the election of two female prime ministers, but the work to achieve complete gender equality in Denmark is far from accomplished, more so with the income inequality challenge. The Danish government, in cooperation with civil society and the private sector, can improve women’s rights by creating safe spaces and repealing the 1969 Civil Service Reform Act to ensure equal pay for equal work. It is important for countries to leverage policies and programs that provide equal opportunities for men and women to achieve gender parity for a peaceful and prosperous world.

– Sylvia Eimieho
Photo: Flickr

Gender Wage Gap in France
The gender wage gap impacts women all over the world. According to USB Management Review, the gender wage gap is “the difference in wages between men and women for the same type of work or work of equal value.” With women bearing the brunt of the gender wage gap, the gender wage gap presents a barrier to gender equality, the progression of women and global poverty reduction overall. Although the Government of France has made progress in the realm of gender equality, the gender wage gap in France still puts female citizens at a notable disadvantage.

The Gender Wage Gap in France and Europe Overall

In 2018, the gender wage gap in France stood at 15.2%, slightly below the European average of 16.2% in the same year. Essentially, this statistic means that men in France earned 15.2% more than women for work of the same nature. In 2019, the European average wage gap saw improvement, dropping to 14.1% while France saw a rise in the gender wage gap, climbing to 16.5%, the 10th highest in the European Union. Estonia had the highest gender wage gap at 21.7% while Luxembourg had the lowest at just 1.3%. The feminist French newsletter, Les Glorieuses, explained that, in 2021, the gender wage gap in France essentially equated to women working without pay from November 3, 2021.

Contributing Factors to the Gender Wage Gap in France

Women tend to unfairly shoulder the burden of child care and household responsibilities, which is why 80% of women’s employment in France falls within the part-time job sector in an attempt to balance all these responsibilities. Overall, women spend a significant amount of time on unpaid work, such as household chores, in comparison to men. When women give birth to their first child, typically between 30 and 35, differences in pay become even more apparent. In addition, maternity leave tends to unfairly impact the career progression of women, placing them at another disadvantage for promotions.

Women in the Workplace

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021 ranks France 16th globally for its gender pay gap size. The result is a consequence of low scoring in the category of Economic Participation and Opportunity for women in France, taking the 58th rank in this category globally.

In France, “women only hold 34.6% of senior and managerial positions,” which is a lower rate than the United Kingdom at 36.8% and the U.S. at 42%. Yet, France and 25 other nations take first place rankings in regard to “educational attainment for women.” Only a single company “out of France’s 40 largest companies” has a female running it — Engie, a utility company with CEO Catherine MacGregor at the helm.

Progress for Women in France’s Workplace

France passed the Cope-Zimmermann law 11 years ago, which established “quotas for the gender balance of company boards, with the aim of reaching a minimum representation of 40% for each gender.” The law mandated that within three years of its passing, “20% of a company’s board members must be women, rising to 40% within the following six years.” This law applied only to certain companies within specific turnover and employee thresholds. Currently, France is taking the global lead in this regard, with 43% of women’s representation in company boards. In comparison, the United Kingdom has a 36% representation in this regard while Sweden has 35%.

In response to the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on women, the “European Commission has published a drafted law that would force companies with [more than] 250 employees to publicly release annual statistics on their employees’ salaries.” The same disclosure is applicable for smaller-scale companies, “though only upon request by an employee and not to the public.” These pay transparency reports would help fight the gender wage gap. For the draft to take effect, it requires “a majority vote by the European Parliament and a unanimous agreement among all 27 member states’ governments.”

The ongoing efforts to close the gender wage in France and dismantle gender inequality barriers allow women to see the same advancement and progression as their male counterparts.

– Sierrah Martin
Photo: Flickr

Gender Wage Gap in JapanJapan has the world’s third-largest economy by gross domestic product (GDP). Despite this, there is a significant gender wage gap in Japan. Women face an uphill challenge entering the Japanese labor market. Gender discrimination and less representation in regular employment results in diminished wages for women in comparison to their male counterparts. Due to this, many single women experience economic hardship. Fortunately, the Japanese government has made the gender wage gap a key focus. Launched in December 2020, the Fifth Basic Plan for Gender Equality sets forward various updated policies that promise to make significant headway in closing the gap.

The Gender Wage Gap

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), women employed in Japan earn an average of 22.5% less than men. In addition, Japan’s gender wage gap stood at 24.5% in 2018. Further, the World Economic Forum’s 2021 Global Gender Gap Report ranks Japan 120th out of 156 countries.

A combination of factors contributes to the wage gap. Employed women are likely to earn less than their male counterparts partly due to less representation in management. In addition, more women than men work in “non-regular” positions. These positions offer less compensation and fewer job protections than “regular” jobs. Women who leave the regular workforce for childrearing and attempt to reenter the labor market encounter limited opportunities for regular employment. That, of course, hurts their earning potential. This trend is particularly concerning among women raising children on their own.

High Poverty Despite More Mothers in Labor Force

Interestingly, at 85%, there are more Japanese single mothers in the labor force than any other OECD member nation. Despite this, the poverty rate of these single-parent families is an alarming 56%. In Japan, joint custody does not legally exist. Further, women are more often financially responsible for their children. With their weak economic power and a constrained social safety net, single mothers endure difficulties escaping poverty.

Addressing Wage Disparity

The disparity in the gender wage gap in Japan proves to be a difficult issue to address. In a report that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga received, the Japanese Council for Gender Equality recommended that he push back previous targets to have 30% of women in managerial and political positions by up to 10 years. “We need to do introspection on the fact that the plan has not sufficiently progressed and undertake an effort,” Suga said after reading the Council’s report.

The Fifth Basic Plan for Gender Equality

Regardless of the failure to meet targets and the need to delay the targets, there is a strong will among the nation’s political leaders to address this issue. In 2020, the Japanese government put forward a new set of objectives that call for gender equity through the Fifth Basic Plan for Gender Equality.

Specifically, the plan asks political parties to promote more female candidates for political offices and judgeships. It asks corporations to add females into top leadership roles. The expectation is that more gender equity at the top levels will produce norms and policies that increase opportunity in the Japanese labor market for women.

Continuous effort on the part of policymakers makes the gender equality gap a high-priority issue going forward. The multi-faceted approach of the Fifth Basic Plan for Gender Equality looks to address the underpinning social, political and economic problems that produce disparate wages among men and women. If successful, the plan will reduce the risk of poverty among women.

– Gonzalo Rodriguez
Photo: Flickr