The gender pay gap, hard truths and actions needed: Article from the Hindu


Regarding the global economic growth and structural transformation storey, India has a significant place. However, there are still a lot of asymmetries on the country's labour market.

Further economic growth and the advantages it provides will be stimulated by a proportionate improvement in its labour market outcomes and a fair sharing of the riches of economic advancement.

On September 18, 2022, the third annual International Equal Pay Day was observed.

The purpose of the symbolic day is to draw attention to problems and increase global awareness of the gender inequality that women have historically faced by earning less money than men.

Impact of the pandemic

Although the entire effects of the epidemic are not yet understood, it is obvious that they have been uneven, with women being among those most negatively impacted in terms of their ability to secure an income.

This is partially a result of their presence in COVID-19-affected industries and the gendered allocation of household duties.

During the pandemic, many women switched to providing full-time care for children and the elderly, giving up their jobs in the process.


According to the "Global Wage Report 2020-21" published by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Covid-19 issue put tremendous downward pressure on salaries.

Women employees were disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of employment and income losses, indicating that the gender pay gap has grown.

According to early projections from the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) 2020–21, the pandemic-related gap widened by 7% between 2018–19 and 2020–21.

The data also indicates that this discrepancy was caused by female pay declining more quickly during the pandemic than male wages growing more quickly during the same period.

India has made significant progress in closing the gender wage gap over time, yet by international standards, the gap still exists.

In 1993–1994 Indian women made, on average, 48% less than their male counterparts.

According to data from the National Sample Survey Office's then-labor force survey, the gap closed to 28 percent in 2018–19. (NSSO).

Discrimination as factor

Though the majority of the gender pay gap is ascribed to discrimination based on a person's gender or sex, other factors, such as education, abilities, or experience, can also contribute.

The following are some examples of gender-based discriminatory practices:

Women receive lower pay for similar work.

women's labour is undervalued in strongly feminised industries and professions,

Mothers earn less money than non-mothers due to the motherhood pay gap..

Steps to address gender inequality

The challenge of eradicating various types of gender inequality has been prioritised by the UN in all of its initiatives.

Equal compensation for equal work is a principle that the ILO has incorporated into its Constitution.

A global legal foundation for achieving gender equality and addressing the intersecting forms of discrimination and vulnerability among women and girls is provided by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

"Achieving full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and individuals with disabilities, and equitable remuneration for work of equal worth" is one of the goals of the UN SDG 8 by the year 2030.

The Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC), a multi-stakeholder project led by the ILO, UN Women, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), was established in 2017 in support of this Goal. EPIC aims to achieve equal pay for women and men globally.

Indian strategy

India was one of the first nations to pass the Minimum Wages Act in 1948, followed by the Equal Remuneration Act in 1976, in an effort to reduce the gender pay gap, particularly at the low end of the wage distribution.

India thoroughly revised each of the aforementioned pieces of legislation in 2019 and also passed the Code on Wages.

Evidence suggests that the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) of 2005 helped rural women employees and indirectly decreased the gender pay gap.

Direct benefits came to women who worked in the programme by increasing their pay levels. Indirect benefits came in the form of better earnings for women who worked in agricultural jobs because MGNREGA helped to accelerate the rise in rural and agricultural salaries nationwide.

The Maternity Benefit Act of 1961 was changed by the government in 2017, increasing the "maternity leave with pay protection" for the first two children for all women working in establishments with 10 or more employees from 12 weeks to 26 weeks.

The maternal pay gap between mothers earning the median and high-end wages in the formal economy is anticipated to decrease as a result of this.

Through the Skill India Mission, efforts are being made to provide women with marketable skills in order to close the learning-to-livelihood gap and the gender pay gap.

Way ahead

A human-centred recovery from the pandemic is necessary for full and productive economic growth, and this can be achieved through enhancing women's job outcomes and narrowing the gender pay gap.

Even while the gender pay gap is gradually closing, doing so at the current rate of improvement will take more than 70 years.

Accelerated and fearless action is required to stop the gender wage gap from getting wider and to close the gap that now exists. Achieving social justice for working women and national economic growth both depend on equal remuneration for work of equal value.

Source: The Hindu


Posted by V.P.Nimbalkar on 19th Sep 2022