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Gaps in gender pay, employment proving difficult to close — ILO

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gender gap
REUTERS

WAGE and employment inequality between men and women remains an issue globally, according to a report from the International Labor Organization (ILO).

In a report, “A quantum leap for gender equality: For a better future of work for all,” the ILO found that gender gaps at work still have a long way to go to resolve. Only 45.3% of women globally have work compared to 71.4% of men. In 2018, 2.0 billion men were employed globally, against 1.3 billion for women.


The global gender employment gap has only decreased by 2 percentage points over the past 27 years, it said.

“The gender gaps with respect to key labor market indicators have not narrowed in any meaningful way for over 20 years. This situation should give rise to concern. Unless the present trajectory is changed, unless policy choices are made that put gender equality at their core, the situation is likely to deteriorate further as work becomes more fragmented and the future remains uncertain,” the report said.

Growth in the share of female wage earners have increased in the past 27 years by 10 percentage points, yet ILO reports there is still no decrease in the gap of average wages earned between men and women.

“Currently, the gender pay gap is still 18.8% throughout the world, ranging from 12.6% in low-income countries to 20.9% in upper middle-income countries,” ILO said, adding that the gender pay gap still remains largely unexplained globally.

Opportunities to be hired are also lower in women. Women are also less likely to be employed in managerial positions. Only 27.1% of managers and leaders globally are women, unchanged since 1991. More women are considered more qualified than men in managerial positions with 44.3% of female managers having an advanced degree against 38.3% for their male counterparts.

“Globally, women are estimated to have lower chances of being employed than men and are more likely to be at the bottom of the professional ladder,” ILO said. It did add, however, that women in managerial positions reach the top faster than men.

Unpaid care work also plays a role in why women are not part of the workforce with ILO reporting 606 million women do care work full-time as opposed to only 41 million men. On average, women spend four hours and 25 minutes a day doing unpaid care work while men spend only one hour and 23 minutes.

From 1997 and 2012, ILO said that women’s time devoted to unpaid care work and household work decreased by 15 minutes a day, compared to the time spent by men which increased by eight minutes. At this rate, closing the gender gap in unpaid care work will take more than two centuries, ILO said.

“The imbalance in the division of work within the household between men and women is one of the most resilient features of gender inequality… At this pace, it is estimated that the gender gap in time spent in unpaid care work will not be closed until 2228; in other words, closing the gap would take 209 years,” ILO said.

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said in a statement that efforts to address the gender gap concerns must be boosted by establishing policies that call for women’s social protection and emphasizing women’s representation in the labor sector.

“We need to implement a transformative agenda that includes enforcement of laws and regulations — perhaps we may even need to revisit those laws and regulations — backed by investment in services that level the playing field for women, such as care and social protection, and a more flexible approach to both working hours and working careers. And there is the persistent attitudinal challenge of attitudes to women joining the workforce and their place in it,” he said. — Gillian M. Cortez