New Delhi: Although women make up 67 per cent of healthcare workers globally, they are paid 24 per cent less than their male counterparts, according to the first global industry gender pay gap report, jointly developed by the International Labor Organization and World Health. Organization.
The report documents a gross gender pay gap of roughly 20 percentage points that jumps to 24 percentage points when factors such as age, education and length of employment are taken into account.
He noted that Covid-19 shed light on the critical importance of health and care workers, who were applauded and celebrated. But the pandemic has also laid bare the extent of inequalities, particularly the gender pay gap, that workers in this highly feminized sector have faced for decades.
While much of this gap is unexplained, UN agencies said it may be due to discrimination against women. The report also found that wages in health and care tend to be lower overall compared to other sectors, which is consistent with the finding that wages are often lower in areas where women predominate.
“The health and care sector has endured generally low wages, stubbornly large gender pay gaps, and highly demanding working conditions. The Covid-19 pandemic clearly exposed this situation while demonstrating how vital the sector and its workers are to keeping families, societies and economies going,” said Manuela Tomei, Director of the Department of Working Conditions and Equality of the ILO, in a statement.
The report also found wide variation in gender pay gaps across different countries, indicating that these gaps are not inevitable and that more can be done to close the gap.
Within countries, gender pay gaps tend to be wider in higher pay categories, where men are overrepresented, while women are overrepresented in lower pay categories.
Mothers working in the health and care sector also appear to suffer additional penalties, with gender pay gaps increasing significantly during a woman’s reproductive years and persisting for the rest of her working life.
According to the report, a more equal distribution of family duties between men and women could lead women to choose different jobs.
Tomei expressed his hope that the report will trigger dialogue and political action, as there will be no inclusive, resilient and sustainable post-pandemic recovery without a stronger health and care sector.
“We cannot have better quality health and care services without better and fairer working conditions, including fairer wages, for health and care workers, the majority of whom are women,” she said.