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Today is the day of Equal Pay in the U.S., but what about Equal Pay day around the world?

April 28, 2009

Did you know that today is Equal Pay Day in the United States? Female workers have to put in an average of six days of work to receive the same amount of compensation that male workers earn in five days of work. Equal Pay Day falls on a Tuesday in April, reminding us the day on which women’s wages catch up to men’s wages from the previous week. Here’s an uplifting short video about women in the workplace (in the U.S.):

Nancy Folbre wrote an article in the New York Times where she states that

Some women earn less than men because they choose less lucrative occupations or take more time out from employment. But a 2003 Government Accountability Office study controlling statistically for these factors showed that women’s average pay between 1983 and 2000 flat-lined at about 80 percent of men’s over the entire period.

For more recent information on the gap between female and male workers, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research has a great fact sheet. To read more about equal pay and compensation discrimanation in the U.S., click here.  You can also read about the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act here.  I think it’s great that we have this day in the U.S.: to recognize and remind ourselves that there still is a large discrepency between women’s wages and men’s wages in the U.S. But what about the outside of the U.S.?

According to the Interational Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), there is an even larger gap between the wages of women and men. The ITUC just released a report in March 2009 about the Global Gender Gap. Sharan Burrow, president of the ITUC and the Australian Trade Union Centre ACTU, says that

There are a number of reasons why women still earn so much less than men, including overt as well as subtle discrimination against women in the labour market and in the workplace, the way that employers, especially in the private sector, handle promotions to better-paid jobs, and lack of maternity protection for women and parenting leave that both men and women can access.

To read more about this report, click here. And clearly, we don’t need Equal Pay Days just for recognition that there is a large gap between men’s and women’s wages. There needs to be action—not just in law, but educating and changing people’s attitudes about women in the workplace. Women have as much to offer at work as men do, so why not have equal compensation? What kind of action do you think needs to happen in order to lessen the wage gap?

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