Achieving pay equality for women may take 70 years, says ILO

It will take at least 70 more years to achieve pay equity between women and men, the ILO said on Sunday noting that women earn on average 77 per cent of what men earn.

hidden March 08, 2015 14:06:00 IST
Achieving pay equality for women may take 70 years, says ILO

It will take at least 70 more years to achieve pay equity between women and men, the ILO said on Sunday noting that women earn on average 77 per cent of what men earn.

On the occasion of International Women's day, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said a gender pay gap persists, both for women with and without children. In general, women earn on average 77 per cent of what men earn, with the absolute gap widening for higher-earning women.

Achieving pay equality for women may take 70 years says ILO

Representational image. Courtesy: Thinkstock

"Are working women better off today than they were 20 years ago? The answer is a qualified yes. Has this progress met our expectations? The answer is a decidedly no. We need to be innovative, to reframe the debate and to intensify the focus on ensuring the rights of women at work," Director General of the ILO, Guy Ryder said in a statement.

The ILO, United Nation's specialised agency noted that without targeted action, at the current rate, pay equity between women and men will not be achieved before 2086, or at least 71 years from now.

Globally, the gap in labour market participation rates between men and women has decreased only marginally since 1995. Currently about 50 per cent of all women are working, compared to 77 per cent of men. In 1995, these figures were 52 per cent and 80 per cent respectively.

It is estimated that reducing the gap in participation rates between men and women by 25 per cent in G20 countries by 2025 would add more than 100 million women to the labour force. Today women own and manage over 30 per cent of all businesses but tend to be concentrated in small enterprises.

On a more macro level, women sit on 19 per cent of board seats globally, and hold only five per cent of CEO positions at the world's largest companies, the agency said.

Further, it said access to maternity protection has improved, given that the percentage of countries offering 14 weeks or more maternity level has increased from 38 per cent to 51 per cent.

However more than 800 million women workers globally, about 41 per cent of the female workforce worldwide, still do not have adequate maternity protection.

Progress in implementing the Declaration and Platform for Action adopted at the Fourth World Conference in Women in Beijing in 1995 has been mixed, the ILO said.

According to a new report, "The motherhood pay gap: A review of the issues, theory and international evidence", mothers often earn less than women without children.

Despite policy and international labour standard adjustments, women continue to experience widespread discrimination and inequality in the workplace.

"The overriding conclusion 20 years on from Beijing is that despite marginal progress we have years, even decades to go until women enjoy the same rights and benefits at work,"

Chief of the Gender and Equality and Diversity Brand of the ILO Shauna Olney said. In developed countries, the wage gap increases when a woman has more than one child. In developing countries, however, girls and young woman are more like than their male counterparts to be kept at home to help with household and caring tasks.

Across both poor and rich nations, violence against women remains a major factor undermining their access to decent work.

"In most parts of the world, women are often in undervalued and low-paid jobs; lack access to education, training, recruitment; have limited bargaining and decision-making power; and still shoulder responsibility for most unpaid care work," ILO said.

The agency said a silver lining is that more countries are recognising men's care responsibilities – the number of countries providing some type of paternity leave has doubled from 38 per cent in 1994 to 56 per cent in 2013.

But despite this, "women continue to shoulder most of the responsibility for family care, often limiting their access to paid employment completely, or confining them to part-time positions, which are typically not as well paid," it said.

PTI

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