International Equal Pay Day is a United Nation observance celebrated annually on September 18. It was declared by a resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 18, 2019, and celebrated for the first time in 2020.
The gender pay gap, also known as the gender wage gap, is a form of gender discrimination that is widespread throughout the world. Women are generally paid 20 to 30% less than men for the same job in a similar position. Despite the gender policies of individual countries and international measures taken to overcome gender inequality, the gender pay gap remains a global and constant phenomenon.
The gender wage gap has a long history associated with the patriarchal society. The key reasons why the gender pay gap exists include, but are not limited to, different socialization of men and women based on gender stereotypes (such as the existence of “traditionally male” and “traditionally female” occupations), discrimination in hiring (women, especially young ones, are often denied employment because they are expected to get pregnant and ask for maternity leave), vertical and horizontal segregation in the labor market, and lack of transparency in wage policies.
According to global estimates, women across all regions earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men for the work of equal value, with an even wider wage gap for women with children. It should also be noted that women carry out two and a half times more household and care work than men, without getting a penny for it.
Despite all the efforts being made both in individual countries and globally, at this rate it will take at least seven decades to close the global wage pay gap. This is why gender equality, including wage equality for similar work, was included in the list of Sustainable Development Goals. Another sustainable development goal is inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment, and decent work for all people, which includes equal pay for equal work.
To highlight the importance of equal pay and the elimination of discrimination in the labor market, the UN General Assembly declared September 18 as International Equal Pay Day. It is quite symbolic that the first celebration took place in 2020 in the midst of the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, which had a greater impact on women than on men, especially in developing countries and vulnerable sectors. The inaugural celebration was held in partnership with the Equal Pay International Coalition.
The main objectives of International Equal Pay Day are to recognize the efforts to close the gender pay gap that has already been made by relevant parties and to encourage further efforts to achieve equal pay for equal work regardless of one’s gender.
Measures aimed at closing the gender wage gap include, but are not limited to, anti-discrimination legislation, awareness campaigns, gender-specific and inclusive social policy mechanisms, monitoring and enforcement of equal pay, overcoming the glass ceiling, campaigns against gender stereotypes in education and employment, etc.