Published: 03/03/2012

No progress has been made for more than a decade in closing the gender pay gap, according to a recent report by the ITUC (Frozen in time: Gender pay gap unchanged for 10 years).

The wage gap in the 43 countries studied ranges from 4% in Slovenia to 46% in Zambia, with an average of 20% on a global level. The sectors with the highest gaps are those with low union density and low wages, such as hotels and restaurants and agriculture.

Another finding confirms the persistence of discrimination against women due to family responsibilities. While a majority of male workers receive a child premium even after they reach 40 years, women workers suffer a “child penalty” affecting most women in the age group 30-39. Half of these experience considerably reduced wages for child rearing.

It is high time that unions take serious action to stop the continued discrimination against women. ILO Conventions 100 on Equal Remuneration and 111 on Non discrimination should be an integral part of the union negotiating agenda. They are not only core conventions of the ILO but also those with the highest ratification rate, having been ratified by 168 and 169 countries, respectively.