Gender Pay Gap – A Long Road Ahead

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In early March this year, in the European Parliament, a Polish MEP said ‘Women should earn less because they were ‘weaker’, ‘smaller’ and ‘less intelligent’. He also went on the claim that the ‘new’ stereotype that women were as intelligent as men needed to be shut down. His comments, understandably, incurred the wrath of female MEP – and he now faces a fine or suspension pending investigation.

Also, in February this year,  a Utah Republican, unsurprisingly, wrote a letter stating ‘simple economics’ was the rationale behind the gender pay gap. Here too there was a severe backlash to his letter, which made him resign from his position within 2 days.

 

Here’s the letter:

letter

 There’ve been more such incidents and they indicate the mindset of people across different regions regarding the disparity in the gender pay gap. Scarily, many seem to justify it and see nothing wrong with it.

However, it is heartening to note that women are actively ‘speaking up’ against this attitude and thought process – as we saw in Equal Pay Day. In the US, it was celebrated on April 4th this year, and many organizations including Lean In used the opportunity to start a discussion about the issue.

Let’s look closer home. The gender wage gap in Bihar is 63%  – which means that for every Rs.100 a man gets paid, a woman makes only Rs. 37! Though the statistics are better in other states, with the best being 10% in Uttarakhand, it is disheartening for any ambitious, hard working woman to realize that she is  getting paid lesser than her male counterparts for the exact same work. Though there is an ‘Equal Remuneration Act’ in effect in India since 1976, awareness and utilization of it is nil. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, a woman in the corporate sector is paid only one-third of what a man makes in the same position. It’s a sad state of affairs.

Here’s where we need to look for some great examples of gender parity – like Iceland, which on Women’s day this year, became the first country to introduce a legislation for companies (both public and private) to prove that men and women should be being paid equally. This country has more than 50% of its lawmakers as women and they are moving towards making ‘Equal Pay’ a law, the implementation of the same is set to be done by 2020.

But sadly, such examples are few and far between – women, world over, need to continue their fight towards equal pay. It’s going to be a while before more countries follow Iceland’s example. The fight must go on.

By Namratha Varadharajan

namratha

Namratha is a digital marketer in the making. Other than her love for the written word and her kids, she enjoys Italian food, dancing and gardening. Explore more of her writings at www.namysaysso.com

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