What is the Gender Pay Gap?
The gender pay gap is the difference between what men and women are typically paid. Research shows that across demographics and workplaces women are consistently paid less than men in the United States and around the world.
The causes of the gender pay gap are complex since gender norms affect how we choose and value work. Men, for example, are less likely to take time out of the workforce to care for family members, while women in the workforce statistically spend more time on unpaid housework, caregiving, and parental leave than men do. Multiple studies have found that even after accounting for factors such as occupation, industry, hours worked, and education, a substantial pay gap remains. This unexplained gap suggests that gender bias is a factor in unequal pay. Further, racial prejudices and discrimination compound the effects of gender bias; some of the highest-paying fields tend to exclude women of color.
Globally, women only make 77 cents for every dollar men earn. It is a significant cause of lifetime income inequality. According to research, at current rates, it will take 70 years to close this gap. Labor policies are a critical factor when it comes to this gap. For instance, women face greater constraints in balancing paid work and family responsibilities. Restrictive policies, such as inflexible working hours and limited parental leave, can impede women’s mobility in the workforce and force them into part-time employment. In turn, this exposes them to further inequalities, such as limited access to social protection, in particular, old-age benefits. Women with children are more vulnerable to these inequalities — also known as the motherhood penalty. In sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, the gender pay gap is 31 percent and 35 percent, respectively, for women with children, compared to 4 percent and 14 percent for women without children. (Source)
Pay Gap in USA
On June 10, 1963, President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law. More than half a century later, the pay inequality persists overwhelming in American society. Closing the gender pay gap in the USA is expected to lead to greater economic security and significantly lower poverty rates for women and their families. With 42 percent of U.S. mothers as primary breadwinners, closing the gap would mean supporting more contributors to a healthy national economy.
Therefore, ‘Equal Pay Day,’ was selected as the day to raise awareness on the perpetual existence of the pay disparity.
In 2018, the equal pay day was celebrated on April 10, 2018. Conceptually, the date symbolizes how far into the year the women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. It means that women would have to work until April 10 to make what men earned by December 2017. Due to the limited availability of the statistics, it is challenging to preselect an exact day. Regardless, the pay gap in the USA stands at .80 or 80%, i.e., women on average make 80% of what men earn in a year. (Source)
UN Women Efforts
Equal Pay International Coalition: Led by ILO, UN Women and the OECD, the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC) is a multi-stakeholder coalition to contribute to the achievement of SDG target 8.5 focusing on equal pay between women and men for work of equal value.
EPIC is built on the recognition that no single actor can solve this challenge alone and that efforts can be accelerated by leveraging expertise across a diverse range of stakeholders. EPIC acknowledges the fundamental importance of country ownership, alignment with national priorities, harmonization, managing for results and mutual accountability among partners. It does not aim to replace existing partnerships but rather multiply their outreach and impact, providing a framework within which existing initiatives and organizations can connect and reinforce each other.
Further, through its Income generation and security through decent work and social protection for women program, UN Women promotes income generation and improve women’s income security by expanding decent work opportunities and access to gender-responsive social protections. UN Women also actively pursues gender parity through its Equal opportunities for women entrepreneurs program, which aims to address the structural barriers faced by women entrepreneurs by promoting gender-responsive public and corporate procurement to create demand for women-owned businesses and strengthening the capacity of women-owned businesses to respond to this demand.
UN Women USA Efforts
Supporting UN Women's efforts in bridging the gender gap, UN Women USA's Metro New York Chapter organized the Global Equal Pay Forum in March. The forum was part of the side events hosted during the sixty-second session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York.
Sustainable Development Goals and Equal Pay
By supporting equal pay efforts, UN Women USA is, directly and indirectly, supporting the achievement of nine SDGs.
These goals relate to:
SDG 1: No poverty
SDG 2: Zero hunger
SDG 3: Good health and well-being
SDG 6: Clean water and sanitation
SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy
SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth
SDG 9: Industry, innovation, and infrastructure
SDG 10: Reduced inequalities
SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals