The United Nations (UN) celebrated, on Friday, the first International Day for Equal Pay at its headquarters in the US city of New York.
The introduction of the UN-backed day, which focuses on equality in pay, represents longstanding global efforts in achieving equal pay for work of equal value. It further builds on the UN’s commitment to human rights and efforts against all forms of discrimination, including discrimination against women and girls.
Worldwide, women are frequently paid less than men, with the gender pay gap estimated at 23% globally. The inequality in pay, particularly in the workplace, is considered a form of discrimination against women.
To mark the day, the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC) called on all global leaders to take the steps needed to ensure pay equity remains firmly at the heart of worldwide recovery efforts to counter the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Led by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UN Women, EPIC brings together a variety of expertise.
The organisations work to support governments, employers, workers, and their organisations, to make concrete and co-ordinated progress to achieve equal pay for women and men.
According to the UN, women in the workforce have been disproportionately impacted by the short-term economic fallout of the global pandemic.
Sectors such as accommodation, catering, and retail services, frequently rely on physical interaction, with many companies in these sectors major employers of women. These sectors have also been hardest hit by the economic impacts of the coronavirus.
Furthermore, women are much more likely than men to be in the most vulnerable segments of the informal economy as domestic workers, or as home-based workers in the lower tiers of global supply chains. Women also mainly contribute as family workers, meaning they have little protections against dismissal, paid sick leave and access to social protections.
The event included a collective message delivered by EPIC’s Steering Committee, including: President of Iceland, Guoni Johannessoe; Secretary-General of International Employers Organization, Roberto Suarez Santos; and Secretary-General of International Trade Union Confederation, Sharan Burrow.
Other attendees included Head of the EPIC Secretariat and ILO Director General Guy Ryder; Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka; and OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria.
The message called for an economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic that prioritises equal pay for work of equal value as a key driver of an inclusive, resilient and sustainable recovery. It also focused on the value of unpaid care work, whilst calling on the need for access to affordable services, such as childcare and healthcare.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s Ministry of Manpower, lead by Mohamed Saafan, participated in the celebration virtually. Egypt joined the International Alliance for Equal Pay at the beginning of 2020, and is a member of the Alliance’s Business Committee.