By C. Marie Ainsborough, June 1, 2016
A report by the United Nations shows that women are far from catching up to men both in terms of finding employment and pay equity for work of equal value. Radio Labour’s senior correspondent C. Marie Ainsborough reports:
[C. Marie Ainsborough]: Millions of women around the world are falling behind in their attempts to win equal treatment as workers, both in searching for employment and in wages. A new study by the UN’s International Labor Organization shows that women are still finding it difficult to enter paid employment. Since 1995, the number of women in the global workforce has increased by only 0.6 percent. Globally, 46 percent of women are employed as compared to 72 percent of men. Meanwhile, the report confirms the result of other studies which show that even when women do find work, they are seriously underpaid. According to the ILO report, women earn, on average, 77 percent of what men earn. Lawrence J. Johnson is the Deputy Director of the ILO’s Research Department:
[Lawrence J. Johnson]: “While there’s been great strides in women in terms of education, those haven’t translated into the labor market. We know that only about 1.3 billion women are engaged in the labor markets where 2 billion men are. The challenge is, how do we create not only opportunities, but decent productive work for these women? Half of the women engaged in the labor market are among the ranks of the unemployed, or what we call own-account or unpaid family work, where they often lack the basic social protections, protection under labor law, and again, this right to collective bargaining. So it puts them at a strong disadvantage. The ability for these economies to grow is also limited. Without women engaged in the labor market, it puts countries at a strong disadvantage. Women are engaged in two ways. Paid employment, but also women’s work at home. If you look in developed economies, it’s about twice as much as their male counterparts, and if you move to the developing economies, it’s three times as much. Because they’re engaged so much in non-paid work, it limits their ability to participate in paid employment. That also means that women are not participating and contributing to pension schemes. Two out of every three women that are engaged in economic activities are not benefiting from pension schemes. We need to make sure women have a voice. We need to make sure we have policies that promote women entering the labor market, but also look at these constraints when we talk about elder care, child care. What can we do as a society to ensure that women can contribute?”
[C. Marie Ainsborough]: The new ILO study notes that the wage gap between men and women can be linked to the undervaluation of the work women do, and to the skills prevalent in female-dominated sectors or occupations. The study also points to discrimination and the need for women to take career breaks because of pregnancies. The ILO report estimates that if current trends continue, closing the wage gap will take another 70 years.