World Bank Report Shows No Equal Work Opportunity for Women in Any Country; Where Does India Stand? – News18

Curated By: News Desk
Edited By: Shilpy Bisht
Last Updated: March 24, 2024, 09:16 IST
New Delhi, India
While 95 countries enacted laws on equal pay, only 35 had measures in place to ensure the pay gap is covered. (Representational Photo)
A report by World Bank shows a wide gender gap across all countries, including wealthiest economies of the world, where women as compared to men enjoy fewer legal rights, and have no equal work opportunities whatsoever.
“In the area of pay, women earn just 77 cents for every $1 paid to men. The rights gap extends all the way to retirement. In 62 economies, the ages at which men and women can retire are not the same,” the report highlights.
It says there are two major factors that restrict women’s options at workplace: safety from violence and access to childcare services. “When those measures are included, women on average enjoy just 64% of the legal protections that men do—far fewer than the previous estimate of 77%,” the report said.
The gender gap is wide in 190 economies around the world, there is a huge difference between legal reforms and actual outcomes, the report added.
Let us first understand gender gap.
Gender gap is when women and men are treated differently based on rights, opportunities, salaries, benefits and participation. Economists these days refer to gender gap as systemic differences in the outcomes that men and women achieve in the labour market.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) has ranked India at 127 out of 146 countries in its Global Gender Gap (GGG) Index for 2023. According to the World Inequality Report 2022 estimates, men earn 82% of the labour income in India, whereas women earn 18%.
According to a study conducted by McKinsey, women are less likely to be hired into entry-level jobs than men, even though they have the same bachelor’s degrees and attrition rate. “As employees move up the corporate ladder, the disparity increases. For every 100 men promoted to manager, only 86 women achieve the same status,” the study mentioned. Thus, lack of women at entry-level jobs results in fewer qualified women getting promoted.
The Constitution of India guarantees equal pay for equal work for both men and women under Article 39(d) and Article 42. It also prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender under Article 15(1) and Article 15(2).
While 95 countries enacted laws on equal pay, only 35 had measures in place to ensure the pay gap is covered. The report highlights that closing the gender gap would increase global gross domestic product by more than 20%.
The World Bank says women spend an average of 2.3 more hours a day of unpaid care work than men – much of it on childcare.
When an organisation expands the access of childcare, women’s participation in the labour forces increases by 1 percentage point initially, and then doubles over the next five years, the report observes. Only 78 economies provide financial or tax support for parents with young children while 62 countries have quality standards governing childcare services, without which women have to think twice about going to work while they have children in their care, the report said.
Another obstacle for women is namesake legal protection against domestic violence, sexual harassment, child marriage and femicide. “Although 151 economies have laws in place prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace, just 39 have laws prohibiting it in public spaces. This often prevents women from using public transportation to get to work,” the World Bank report mentions.
Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns not only impacted the economies of the world, but increased the socio-economic disparities and psychologies.
According to the data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), 37% women compared to 27% men lost their jobs between April 2020 and April 2021. It has been observed that the women’s employment recovery has been slower.
As per the data from CMIE, even in January 2022, women’s labour force participation was 9.4% lower than in January 2020, compared to 1.6% for men. The number of employed rural women experienced a steep initial fall, from 29.8 million in March 2020 to 17.8 million in April 2020, by 40.2% against 25.5% for rural men. Meanwhile, urban female employment fell from 11.8 million in March 2020 to 8.3 million in April 2020, that is, by 29.2% as compared to 32.4% for men.
Gender pay inequalities were widened in technology, healthcare and financial service sectors post pandemic.
Despite efforts made over the years to reduce the gender pay gap, women in India still earn 28% less than their male counterparts in 2018-29, according to the survey data of the National Sample Survey Office. This gap was 48% in 1993-94.
The International Labour Organization estimates women continue to earn about 20% less than males worldwide.
The data shows the difference in salaries and growth progression can affect a woman’s financial stability and economic independence.
The most common reasons for gender pay gap in India are increased burden of unpaid domestic work, exacerbated gender-based skill and educational gaps, digital illiteracy, travel restrictions, and lack of institutional support at workplaces, as mentioned in a report by The Deccan Herald.
For starters, policymakers should address the issue by implementing equal pay policies, flexible working arrangements, providing training and development opportunities for women.
Government can create jobs catering to women, expand their role in small, medium enterprises and incentivise entrepreneurship. Upskilling them for leadership roles can bridge the gender gap in higher positions.
A report by the McKinsey Global Institute found that closing gender pay gaps could add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025.


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