ILO REPORT – INDIA’S SUFFERS FROM HUGE GENDER PAY GAP

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A recently released Global Wage Report 2016-17 released by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has found that India suffers from huge gender pay gap. It shows that India has among the worst levels of gender wage disparity (men earning more than women in similar jobs) with the gap exceeding 30%.

In the report, Singapore has among the lowest gender wage disparity at 3%. Among major economies, South Korea only fared worse than India, with a gap of 37%. In India, women formed 60% of the lowest paid wage labour, but only 15% of the highest wage-earners. It means that women are not only poorly represented in the top bracket of wage-earners but also gender pay gap at the bottom is also very wide in India.

In other words, not only were women paid less, there were fewer women in highly paid occupations. The share of women among wage earners was among the lowest in South Asia. Compared to a global average of 40%, and an Asia-Pacific average of 38%, in South Asia (whose dominant economy is India), only 20% of wage earners were women.

Women’s educational choices produced occupational segregation. Care work mostly undertaken by women is undervalued because it may be seen as a natural female attribute rather than a skill to be acquired. Thus, there is higher representation of women in sectors where their work is undervalued results in a gender pay gap.

Strong labour market institutions and policies such as collective bargaining and minimum wages will help to lower the pay gap. It is found that the gender pay gap is smallest (around 8%) in the group of countries where the collective bargaining rate is at least 80%, and widest in countries with weak collective bargaining and very low or no minimum wages.

The report also highlighted income inequality. In India, the top 1% earns 33 times what the bottom 10% did. The top 10% also earned 43% of all wages. Since 2006, average wages rose by 60% in India, while they more than doubled in China.

The ILO is a United Nations agency dealing with labour issues, particularly international labour standards, social protection, and work opportunities for all. It was established in 1919 as an agency of the League of Nations and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

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