UN Report Highlights Gender Gap

  • Article by Roland Bleyer
  • April 28, 2015 at 2:39 PM

UN Women is calling for major global policy changes following the release of a new report that highlights the disparities between men and women’s work and home lives around the world.

The Progress of the World’s Women 2015-2016 report reveals that globally, on average, women are paid 24% less than men and that they are “clustered into a limited set of under-valued occupations. For example, 83% of domestic workers worldwide are women and almost half of them are not entitled to the minimum wage.
The report says that women’s labour force participation has “stagnated over the past 25 years” and that gender gaps are persistent, with three quarters of men in the labour force compared to only half of women.

“Differences in women’s employment opportunities, gender pay gaps, and less access to social protection results in large lifetime income gaps,” the report says.

“Over their lifetimes, women in Sweden and France can expect to earn 31 per cent less than men; this figure is 49 per cent for women in Germany and 75 per cent for women in Turkey.”

The report is particularly damning of the gender pay gap in Australia, revealing that it actually increased in the 10 years from 2000 to 2010, while all but four other countries saw conservative declines in the gap. Only Colombia, Finland, Mongolia and Paraguay saw increases similar to Australia’s.

Pay gap graph

In its key recommendations, Progress underlines that with the right mix of economic and social policies, governments can generate decent jobs for women (and men) and ensure that the unpaid care work that goes into sustaining all economies is recognized and supported.

Well-designed social services (e.g. health, care services) and social protection measures (e.g. pensions) can enhance women’s income security, from birth to old age, and enhance their capacity to seize economic opportunities and expand their life options.

“The new economic agenda that UN Women is advocating for is not a pipe dream. Many countries, including low-income developing countries, are already implementing elements of this agenda,” said Shahra Razavi, Chief of UN Women’s Research and Data Section and lead author of the report.

“The kind of change we need is far-reaching, but it can be done.”

Images: Mind the gap graphic, source: Wikimedia Commons; graph from the Progress of the World’s Women report; the UN’s Lakshmi Puri addresses the press about the new report, source: UN Women.

UN Women
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