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Did you know that women earn 77 percent less than men on an average?
Well, I didn’t. At least, not until I came across this article on the UN website here.
Quoting from the same article here:
“In terms of wages, the results in the report confirm previous ILO estimates that globally, women still earn on average 77 percent of what men earn. The report notes that this wage gap cannot be explained solely by differences in education or age. The gap can be linked to the undervaluation of the work women undertake and of the skills required in female-dominated sectors or occupations, discrimination, and the need for women to take career breaks or reduce hours in paid work to attend to additional care responsibilities such as child care.
Though there has been some small improvement in reducing gender wage gaps, if current trends prevail, the report confirms estimates that it will take more than 70 years to close the gender wage gaps completely.”
70 years to close the gender wage gaps! Well, I don’t know about you but that is going to be a little too late for me. I need it to come about sooner than that if not for my generation than for my daughter’s at least. But it seems unlikely, isn’t it? Because I always get this feeling that nobody cares. The men are happy with what they are being paid so why should they bother. The women, us women, are worried, yes, but our efforts are so often fragmented. The worst thing though is that some of us even feel that we create a noise for no reason at all. So, yes, it seems well and truly unlikely.
A lot of what has been said in that article makes sense to me as a woman, as a working woman and a working mum. I had to take a break post child birth which invariably pushed me back 7 months in the career path. 7 months is a long time in my industry when the competition is fierce. 7 months is a lifetime really. But it doesn’t end there. I don’t have the bandwidth to spend 15 or 16 hours at work like most men often have the luxury to even after becoming fathers. I have to take care of things at home. Perception is what comes into play here. So, even though I can manage my official work within the 9 odd hours at my disposal or even occasionally by logging in from home, I’m the person who leaves at 5 sharp. So that makes me dispensable, probably even useless in the minds of those I report to or work with. Yes, because the impression is what contributes a lot to success in the workplace, success means a good designation and compensation. Therefore, in spite of working so very hard, I’ll probably retire earning way less than the men who started working at the same time as me. And that is the reality, a sad one that I have inherited.
70 years to bridging gender pay gap? I'm sorry but I don't like that. #FeministMondays Click To Tweet
It’s unfair if you really think about it. Most women put in more hours at home and at work. Yes, most women do and what we get in return is, well, not enough.
From being served the best and freshest portions at the dinner table to paying men more, that is now a norm.
I recently saw a video posted on the Lean In Community which actually made me think on this issue again. Women are paid at least 20% less than men. Imagine if we were paid 20% less in everything. Well, it kind of is, isn’t it? Indirectly but yes. Another article mentions that women are deprived of 23% of their earnings. This as per UN Women policy director Purna Sen. I wonder how men would react if the tables were turned? Well, they probably don’t need to think about it. And we probably won’t know what it feels like to be paid at par with them at least for the next 7 decades.
We have actually over hundreds of years placed men in a position where we will need to fight to even reach. From being served the best and freshest portions at the dinner table to paying them more, that is now a norm. For us women, though, it will take years of conditioning and fighting to bring that change from the dinner table to the salary slips.
But there’s still hope. This year on International Women’s Day, Iceland became the first country to make it mandatory for firms to prove that they pay equal pay for equal work. The Minister of Social Affairs and Equality of Iceland, Thorsteinn Víglundsson said “Equal rights are human rights. We need to make sure that men and women enjoy equal opportunity in the workplace. It is our responsibility to take every measure to achieve that.” If they can do that, why can’t we? But how?
Well, we can probably take a leaf out of the book of strategies used by the women there. If my memory serves me right then sometime in October last year, they left work at 2:38 pm, about 2 hours earlier than usual. Why? Well, because beyond that they actually work for free. Yes, considering they are paid 30% less than men. They united and effected a change. Why can’t we?
Think about it.
This post is part of the #FeministMondays series (previously called #IAmAFeminist series) on the blog. Inspired by a TEDx talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – We Should All Be Feminists, I intend to talk about the need for feminism through my posts, posts on my experience and observation as a female. I intend to talk about issues concerning women.
Join me and let’s work towards a world of gender parity. Remember, each voice counts. Tell me your story.