International Equal Pay Day happens on September 18th every day. Sadly, unequal pay is still a reality for women. This day is meant to raise awareness about the gender pay gap, with the goal of spurring conversations to push toward closing that gap. Let’s make this happen!
About International Equal Pay Day
The Equal Pay International Coalition began this special day in 2020. To be honest, I’m surprised it didn’t start years earlier!
In the US, the gender pay gap has been all too real since the mid-1800s. That’s when the call for “Equal Pay for Equal Work” began. As it became a political issue, more people realized the gender disparity.
This day is international because the gender pay gap has worldwide implications. Yes, the gender pay gap is a global issue, not just one in North America.
As per UN Women, more women than men are retiring in poverty, and the global wage gap is higher for women with children than those without. Globally, women earn only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes.
Why this day is important
But why does raising awareness matter? For many reasons. Firstly, talking about the issues is part of holding employers responsible who are still not providing equal pay.
It also helps employees learn about their rights and encourages them to pursue pay discrimination if they suspect it exists. The day also prompts organizations to hold training on gender equality at all levels of the organization, including among union personnel.
Not only that, but the International Equal Pay Day awareness campaign can help reduce gender stereotypes and improve a country’s economic well-being. If women’s wages are equal, they are able to contribute to the family income, the community, and society as a whole more strongly. Women will be better positioned to support their families, avoid poverty, and retire comfortably.
And then there’s the obvious point: Women deserve to receive an equal salary for work of equal value! The work is objectively seen to be equal in terms of skills, effort, working conditions, and other criteria.
It comes down to this: If there is no commitment to the goal of eradicating the gender wage gap, then it will continue. Or worsen. So, there must be a drive to increase awareness of the issues.
American stats show inequality continues
Let’s say you are still not convinced that women receive lower pay. Or, perhaps you are unsure how big the gap is, exactly. Or, maybe you want to learn more – Fabulous! Self-educating is the way forward.
While I can’t list the stats for every country around the world in one article, what I can do is focus on one country to illustrate the nature of the gap. As many of my readers are in the United States, let’s focus there.
So, how much do women make in comparison to their male counterparts? The average American woman earns 83 cents for every dollar a white man earns, as per DeptHammer. While that is slightly higher than the global average mentioned earlier, it is still an unfair, unjust number.
And it has terrible consequences for the 34 million US households where women are the primary earner. Of those 34 million homes, 6 million of them have kids under age 18. Yes, the gap impacts all ages.
The same source (DebtHammer) explains that the wage gap exists in a shocking 98% of American jobs. While the gap applies to women of all ages and races, it is worse for women of color, with disabilities, and those who are older age.
The estimate is that it will take 257 years for equality to be achieved (see last source cited). That is far beyond our lifetimes and saddens me greatly. Change is slow, especially when it is systemic like this issue. Still, we must begin to pave the path toward change starting now.
This is only an overview of the statistics; it is not exhaustive. The intention is to educate, encourage change-makers, and fight for what is right.
On International Equal Pay Day, take action
The issue is a systemic one. It involves gender stereotypes and undermines jobs traditionally seen as “women’s work.” The gender pay gap brings to light the fact that women tend to be more prevalent in under-valued sectors, such as caregiving.
Please take a stand on International Equal Pay Day (and every other day of the year) for women’s right to equal pay. Stand up and let your voice be heard. You CAN be a part of positive change that spreads to the bigger labor market and society.