The gender pay gap is the difference between women and men’s earnings, and is an an continuing discrimination and inequality in the labour market were the women are affected.
Positions as management and supervisory are mostly held by men. Men are more promoted then women and get paid better. The number is chocking but amongst CEOs, less than 4% are women. Women do a lot of unpaid work as for instance household work and taking care of children. I do not deny that of course there are men that do some household and takes care of their children but not as much as women. The terrifying number is: when men work they spend 9 hours a week on unpaid tasks, meanwhile when women work they spend 26 hours a week! That a big difference! This is the reason why 1 in 3 women reduce their paid hours at work from fulltime work to part-time work meanwhile 1 in 10 men do the same. So in this way women spend periods off the labour market while less men do that. Unfortunately, future earnings and pensions are affected when this ‘’period-off-act’’ happens. A scary number was out in 2012: 21.7% of women aged 65 and above, were at risk of poverty, meanwhile the number of men was 16.3% (European Commision, 2016) . Considering education in the labour market, segregation in education exists which means that in some jobs women are overrepresented meanwhile in others the men are. In some nations, jobs that women do, as for instance to work in sales or being a teacher, offer lower salaries than jobs men do, even though if same level of education and experience is required (European Commision, 2016). This is really not fear, all men and women are equal and should get the same treatment, which means that when it comes to earning it should be equal!
The gender gap exists worldwide, let’s have a look on Europe. However, in the EU women earn 16% less per hour than men. The gap is different from country to country as for instance in Malta, Slovenia, Italy and Poland it is under 10%, but in Hungary, Germany, Austria and Slovakia it is more than 20%. Ok, let’s not deny that some positive changes has happened as that in overall the gender pay gap has decreased, but in some countries it is increasing, as for instance in Hungary and Portugal. It is a fact- the most women do better at school and university than men, and still the gender gap exists. In the EU in 2012, 83% of women enrolled and achieved upper secondary school, meanwhile the number of men was 77.6%. If we check the statistic for graduating universities in the EU—women represent 60% (European Union, 2016).
In Europe the employment rate is 63% for women, and 75% for men aged 20-64. Another terrifying number is this one : women constitute for 34.9% of part-time work in the EU, meanwhile men constitute for only 8.6%. This number’s explanation is related to the unpaid work women do, as I mentioned above, and unfortunately this affects the gender pay gap. For an employer to know such information, will affect his choice when choosing employees for work (European Union, 2016).
Some may wonder—what is the benefit of closing the gender gap? I will tell you. The benefits are many, let’s start with the first one: A more equal society between men and women would benefit the economy. So in other words, to close the gender pay gap could reduce poverty and increase the earnings of a woman. In this way the risk of a women to fall into poverty is reduced, and also the risk of becoming retired and poor will almost be gone. Another reason is that it will benefit business, workers and the economy. The employer should use the talents and skills of women, for instance ‘’ by valuing women’s skills and through introducing policies on work-life balance, training and career development ‘’ (European Union, 2016). Women’s skills are often underestimated at work and making use of it can help businesses tackle skills lacks. To value a woman for the work she do and reward her skills can improve a company’s effectiveness by attracting ambitious staff and create a positive atmosphere with customers. So all companies in the world should know that if they have equality, they will have the best job for everyone to work in. The company will attract customers, have better performance and competitiveness will be boosted (European Union, 2016). When employees feel more valued for the work they do, they will be more productive at work.
The United Nations created MDG 3 (gender equality and empower women) (United Nations, 2001), followed by the SDG 5 (gender equality and empowering all women and girls), to highlight that gender inequality exists and should be ended. The SDG 5 targets focus on key issues including: to recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work; to promote the shared responsibility within the household; to ensure the participation of women for equal opportunities for leadership and decision-making in the political, economic, and public field; and to adopt and strengthen policies and enforce legislation for empowerment and gender equality of all women (United Nations, 2015).
The OECD, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, is an intergovernmental economic organisation which aims to improve the economic and social wellbeing of individuals globally by promoting policies that will lead to that. An analysis done by the OECS Social Institutions and Gender Index, SIGI, found that less discrimination of women are connected to good outcomes as food security, educational attainment and child health (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2015) . This is a strong evidence of that closing gender gaps will lead to progress and development. According to the UN Women, through economic empowerment for women, economic growth will be faster achieved (UN Women, 2015). So, it can be seen as a win- win situation—by closing the gender pay gap, a country will get more effective workers that will lead to a faster economic growth and a good development.
By Marjam Chahrour
Middlesex University Dubai
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