International

South Asia has world’s most skewed gender wage gap: UN report

In developing regions, up to 95 per cent of women’s employment is informal, in jobs that are unprotected by labour laws and lack social protection,” the report says. Photo: M.Srinath

In developing regions, up to 95 per cent of women’s employment is informal, in jobs that are unprotected by labour laws and lack social protection,” the report says. Photo: M.Srinath  

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Globally, only half of women participate in the labour force, compared to three quarters of men; in India only a third of women are in the labour force.

South Asia has the world’s most skewed gender wage gap and is among the few regions where the gender labour force participation gap is both large and growing, a new report from UN Women has found.

The Progress of the World’s Women 2015-2016 report comes 20 years after the landmark Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. “Since the Beijing Conference, significant advances have been made by many societies, particularly in advancing women’s legal rights. However, as [the report]shows, in an era of unprecedented global wealth, millions of women are still consigned to work in low paid, poor quality jobs, denied even basic levels of health care, without access to clean water and decent sanitation,” the report finds.

Globally, only half of women participate in the labour force, compared to three quarters of men; in India only a third of women are in the labour force. “In developing regions, up to 95 per cent of women’s employment is informal, in jobs that are unprotected by labour laws and lack social protection,” the report says.

Simultaneously, women shoulder the bulk of the burden of unpaid care work; in India, for instance, women do nearly six hours of unpaid care and housework every day as compared to half an hour for men, UN Women found. While on average globally, women are paid 24 percent less than men, the gaps for women with children are even wider. In South Asia, the gender pay gap is 35 per cent for women with children compared to 14 per cent for those without.

“This is a care penalty that unfairly punishes women for stepping in when the State does not provide resources and it affects billions of women the world over. We need policies that make it possible for both women and men to care for their loved ones without having to forego their own economic security and independence,” UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said.

In addition, women remain under-represented in economic leadership positions, the report found. In 2014, across six of the most influential global economic institutions, women’s representation on their boards ranged from four to 20 per cent.

“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 recognised and supported. Well-designed social services and social protection measures 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 report says.

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 6:07:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/south-asia-has-worlds-most-skewed-gender-wage-gap-un-report/article7146852.ece

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