International Equal Pay Day

By: Lisa Kronestedt,

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This blog post was written by Lisa Kronestedt, Intern at the Europe Office at the RWI HQ in Lund. 


 

On 15 November 2019, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming 18 September as International Equal Pay Day. The first edition of International Equal Pay Day occurred the following year, on the 18th of September 2020. The aim of such day is to promote further action towards the achievement of equal pay for work of equal value. This is in line with Agenda 2030 and particularly target 5, which is to “achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value.

The need to continue the discussions on equal pay, through notably, International Equal Pay Day, is evident when considering the present situation. Inequalities persist universally. On average, women, are still paid about 20 per cent less than men, globally. These discrepancies may be due to differences in education, education, working time, occupational segregation, skills, and experience. However, the above list doesn’t offer a complete explanation as to why women are almost always paid less. The hard truth remains that women earn less due to them being subject to gender-based discrimination. Women’s work continues to be less valued. As such, the mission of the equal pay day is significant and very needed.

On the other hand, equal pay is not a universal issue.  Inequality is lesser in countries where the engagement on equal pay is the largest, such as in the Nordic countries. One can argue that pay inequality is a luxury issue. In parts of the world where pay inequality is the most significant, women suffer from unacceptable working conditions. Women also often suffer from poor income security, disproportionate representation in tough working sectors, and the unequal and gendered division of family responsibilities. Those issues need to be resolved before focus can be shifted towards equal pay.

The aforementioned employment issues are results of the pandemic and affect the gender equality in employment. Equal pay is connected to the gender equality in employment too, as the pay women receive demonstrates the value of their work on the labor market. The aim of the equal pay ultimately falls within the aim of gender equality. By highlighted the inequalities and poor working conditions amongst women, the Equal Pay Day creates awareness, which is significant for changes in gender equality.

In summary, the UN created equal pay day in accordance with its targets of the 2030 agenda. The need for the day and discussion is evident due to the persistent global inequalities. Some will argue that equal pay is not the most important issue for gender equality. However, it is a clear indicator of the value of women’s work on the labor market, and thus gender equality in employment.

One can conclude that International Equal Pay Day is important. This year the Equal Pay Coalition (EPIC) will hold a webinar on various issues, including on Pay Transparency. Pay transparency all across the world will further showcase inequalities and has a potential effect on reducing the pay gap, resulting in more equal workplaces worldwide.

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