Are Women Paid Less? Inequality Debate 7
“To make life even tougher, not only are women paid less but they often have
to work harder as well.”
In South Africa we recently discussed the problem of absent fathers. In urban coloured communities this problem is severe with 84% of living fathers being absent and mothers having to take responsibility for all the needs of children.
Besides the healing of fractured families, should we care about the income of women and the hours that they work?
Do Women get Paid Less?
Whether you live in London or Lahore, women everywhere earn less than
men. Getting paid properly isn’t just a problem for women in far-flung regions,
it’s happening right on our doorstep. Here in the UK, the pay gap between men
and women is the largest in Europe, in other countries like China, the pay gap
rises to a staggering 33%.
When you say pay gap, what are we talking about here?
On our shores, the full-time gender wage gap is 15.5%, which is the equivalent
to men being paid for a full year while women effectively work for free after
2 November. And the interesting thing is, that the higher up the tree you go, the
greater the gender pay gap becomes – women in the city get paid a third less
than men. Eh? That can’t be right. How is it that the bloke that climbed up the
ladder neck and neck with his uni mate, gets paid so much more than she does
a few years later?
To make life even tougher, not only are women paid less but they often have
to work harder as well. Women can end up working a ‘triple-shift’, often juggling
childcare with housework and a job (sometimes, in harder circumstances,
Meanwhile, as ever, for women in the developing world life is even tougher.
Just getting down to the business of moneymaking can be an issue. There are
an awful lot of elements against them. Incredible amounts of energy goes into
hard but essential chores like collecting firewood and drawing water instead
of pursuing paid work.
Why should we care?
We should care a lot. Because everyone – male and female, young and old
– would benefit. The more a woman earns, the more powerful she becomes.
Higher female earnings and bargaining power translate into greater
investment in children’s education, health and nutrition, which in turn leads
to economic growth in the long-term. What’s good for a woman is good for
Don’t women need to step it up a bit and fight for their rights?
They do and they are – there are currently 45,000 women in the UK taking
equal pay claims to court. But it’s not enough. Even the brave strikes of the
Dagenham factory workers that pushed for the 1970 Equal Pay Act wasn’t
enough – because equal pay for equal work is still not a reality. We need to see
tougher policies and procedures being put into place, a clear message needs
to be sent out that women should get the same pay as men – because really,
give us one good reason as to why not?