Women’s day: the global gender pay gap

Despite decades of anti-discrimination legislation and changes in company rhetoric, women, whether they are in New York or Shanghai, find their pay cheque contains on average sixteen per cent less than male co-workers. This is what Sharan Burrow, ITUC President, writes in the foreword to a report that reveals in detail the extent of discrimination women face in being paid equal to men for performing the same work around the globe. The report also sets a real challenge for governments and employers to respond to union calls for a renewed effort to tackle the gender pay gap.

That is the official figure, derived from applying a standard method across sixty-three countries. However trade unions in a number of countries report the real gap to be even higher.

Hundreds of millions of women working in informal and unprotected work do not appear in any records, and many developing countries do not have the means, or in some cases the will, to keep national records on the world of work. This is a huge deficit in the global knowledge base, and one for which the international community as a whole must take responsibility. Many believe education is the key to closing the gap, but on the contrary, one of the most sobering findings of this report is that more educated women often find themselves on the wrong side of an even bigger pay gap.
While globalization can sometimes appear to be narrowing the gender gap – in fact women’s pay is not rising at all, instead the increasingly competitive global labour market is responsible for driving down the wages of men. The positive news for workers around the world is that trade unions are succeeding in bridging the pay divide. Through collective bargaining, women and men both get a better, more equal deal.
And through our campaigns about equality, unions play a vital role in educating and informing workers about gender pay issues, in the face of strong resistance from some governments and employers. Unions are resolved to continue and strengthen this work. We must ensure women in all corners of the world, employed across different industries and performing hundreds of different jobs each day, can achieve equal pay.

The full report

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Friday 7th March, in Brussels, will host a discussion and press conference on women fighting for decent work around the world.

Today, women form 40% of total world employment. The basis for launching this two-year Decent Work, Decent Life for Women World Campaign is rooted in the multiple discriminatory policies and practices that confront women workers who:

  • still earn 12 to 60% less than what their male co-workers earn, even in occupations such as nursing and teaching;
  • account for an increasing proportion (60%) of the world’s poor and working poor;
  • face higher unemployment rates than 10 years ago
  • are concentrated in low-paid, unprotected, temporary or casual work;
  • lack maternity protection rights and face violence and sexual harassment in or near the workplace.
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1 Response to “Women’s day: the global gender pay gap”



  1. 1 Those Pesky XY% – The Gender Pay Gap | Trackback on March 30, 2011 at 3:00 pm

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