Observed worldwide on September 18, International Equal Pay Day represents the long-standing struggle for equal pay for equal work. It reinforces the UN’s commitment to human rights and eliminating discrimination in all its forms, including against women and girls.
To accelerate the realization of the principle of ‘equal pay for work of equal value,’ the United Nations, together with The Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC) and other partners, marked the first International Day for Equal Pay in 2020.
This year, for its fourth edition, the day is intended to promote further action towards achieving equal pay for work of equal value.
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What is the Gender Pay Gap?
An objective measure of the disparity in pay between men and women is described as the “gender pay gap.” It generally refers to the average difference between the remuneration of employed females and male workers.
Although different methods and indicators measure the gender pay gap, data clearly show women around the world still earn less when compared to men.
According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2021, produced by the World Economic Forum (WEF), on average, the wage gap—the ratio between the wages of women and men in a similar position—is still approximately 37%.
Despite increasing women’s educational attainment and participation in the labor market, the gender pay gap remains a persistent and multi-dimensional issue in all countries and economic sectors.
Moreover, the pay gap impacts women of color and other minorities. Even though many organizations are making great efforts to close the gender pay gap, many Americans continue to deny its existence.
Countries that Observe International Equal Pay Day
On a global level, not many nations observed International Equal Pay Day. However, various countries have adopted the idea of Equal Pay Day. Depending on the nation, Equal Pay Day may or may not fall on a specific date. Some nations may not even formally recognize it.
There are many differences in marking Equal Pay Day by race and ethnicity, occupation, geography, and age.
This year, in 2023, Equal Pay Day is observed from March to November, depending on specific factors. Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander women observed the day on April 5. Black women observed the day on July 27 after that. For Latina women, the day will be observed on October 5; for Native and Indigenous women, it will be observed on November 30.
Earlier last month, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) observed Equal Pay Day for 2023. Women in Australia worked for 56 days post-financial year end to make up the pay gap.
In the United States, the argument over equal pay has persisted for centuries. To further support the concept of equal pay for all workers, regardless of gender, several laws have been passed.
The United Nations first celebrated Equal Pay Day on September 18, 2020, when women earn 23% less than men globally.
In the UK, International Equal Pay Day marks the point at which women, on average, will stop earning pay compared to men. Essentially, women will work for free for the remainder of the year. This observation is to raise awareness about closing the gender pay gap.
In 2018, that was November 10. The disparity in pay between Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and White women reflects demographic trends similar to those in the United States.
It’s interesting to note that Equal Pay Day in Germany falls on a different day than it does in the United States due to differences in the wage gap and the formula used to determine the date of Equal Pay Day.
In part, Equal Pay Day in Germany inspired Equal Care Day, an occasion designed to raise awareness of society’s undervaluation and unequal distribution of care work.
The Netherlands celebrated its first Equal Pay Day on October 24, 2006. The day was November 14, 2022.
In 2021, the average gross hourly wages for female employees were 13.5% less than for male employees. This represents a reduced gender pay gap of 0.7 percentage points from 2020.
The gender pay gap in the Netherlands in 2022 was 14.2%, which means that, on average, women made 14.2% less than men despite the country’s laws prohibiting wage discrimination based on gender.
The European Union houses several countries. And it observes the Equal Pay Day. Last year, on November 15, the EU observed its Equal Pay Day.
The European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, observes Equal Pay Day based on the average pay gap across the bloc.
As part of the European Council’s efforts to reduce the gender pay gap, the Pay Transparency Directive was adopted on April 24, 2023, introducing measures to make sure women and men in the EU receive equal pay for equal work.
The EU’s gender pay gap stood at 13% in 2020, having decreased only minimally over the preceding 10 years.
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International Equal Pay Day is set aside to raise awareness of the ongoing gender pay gap and advance the principle of equal pay for equal work for men and women everywhere.
The celebration may fall on a different day each year, but it’s typically celebrated on September 18.
On International Equal Pay Day, we have the chance to spread the word about the gender pay gap and its detrimental effects on the economy and society.
It also serves as a wake-up call for authorities, businesses, and people to take action to address and close the pay gap.
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