By Victor Ahiuma-Young
World leaders from governments, private sector companies, trade unions and civil society have pledged to take concrete action towards closing the gender pay gap by 2030.
The global commitments to ensure women in every sector of the workforce are paid equally to men for doing work of equal value were made at the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC) pledging event held during the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Globally, and in every sector of the workforce, women are paid less than men for doing work of equal value.
Unequal pay is one of the most persistent barriers to women’s success at work and to economic growth, and a critical problem that has been prioritized in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) , in particular SDG 8.5 and 5.
Equal pay, in addition to empowering women, can have a significant impact on achieving other key goals, such as promoting inclusive societies, reducing poverty, and creating conditions for decent work and gender equality.
As Principals of the EPIC Secretariat, International Labour Organisation, ILO, Director-General, Guy Ryder; the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka; and the Secretary- General of Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD, Angel Gurria, pledged to accelerate progress on reducing the gender pay gap by convening global leaders to share experiences, documenting and disseminating good practices, and drawing global political attention to the issue of gender pay inequality.
The Director-General of the ILO, Guy Ryder, said: “The fact that women across the globe are still being paid less than men for work of equal value is one of the most visible, tangible and pervasive manifestations of discrimination. It is a matter of urgency to make sure the message is finally heard and things start to change.”
Global leaders in attendance included President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, and Vice-President and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Panama, Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado. Governments from Peru to Jordan, to Switzerland, to Canada, demonstrated their shared vision to accelerate progress to achieve equal pay by pledging to:
implement legislation that prohibits unequal remuneration in the public and private sectors;
establish National Commissions that monitor the compliance of equal remuneration laws;
launch national awareness campaigns on the importance of equal pay.
The Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said: “A strong social protection system is critical to reducing the gender pay gap. Where women have access to paid maternity leave, to affordable child and elderly care services, and to sustainable infrastructure, we see an increase in women engaging in paid work. This will be the theme of next year’s Commission on the Status of Women, and I count on support from the EPIC to accelerate progress on improving social protection systems.”
Secretary-General of the OECD, Angel Gurría, said: “Gender pay gaps are not only unfair for those who suffer them, but they are also detrimental to our economies. If you do not have equal pay, productivity suffers, competitiveness suffers and the economy at large suffers.” He asserted that “it is in our power to make an immediate improvement in the quality of life of hundreds of millions of women and their families if we succeed in delivering equal pay for men and women.”
Notable pledges made at the event include:
The President of Iceland, H.E. Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, committed to implement his country’s Law on the Equal Pay Certification. The law prohibits discriminatory practices based on gender and requires that women and men working for the same employer be paid equal wages and enjoy equal terms of employment.
The International Trade Union Confederation pledged to raise awareness of initiatives that aim to achieve equal pay through advocacy campaigns on investment of childcare, establishing minimum living levels, and guaranteeing social protection to care workers.
The International Organisation of Employers pledged to strengthen its actions to promote gender equality and non-discrimination good practices as part of its commitment to preserve and defend Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, while paying special attention to gender-based discrimination in pay.
Civil Society organisations including Save the Children and CIVICUS pledged to support its members to reduce the wage gap and to conduct internal reviews of its pay policies to ensure internal equity between men and women.
Global companies also participated, including IKEA, Deloitte, Pepsi Co, Nestle and Novartis AG, who expressed their allegiance to EPIC’s mission by committing to, for example: •reviewing hiring and promotional practices to reduce unconscious bias and structural barriers
identify and promote best practices that ensure fairness for all workers implement policies prohibiting discrimination based on gender.
EPIC, an initiative launched in 2017 to work towards closing the gender pay gap, has brought together key actors from across the world to raise momentum and help ensure that equal pay for work of equal value is fully realised. EPIC is led by the International Labour Organisation, ILO, UN Women and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD.
The EPIC secretariat will support global leaders to ensure these commitments are fully implemented and realised.