On November 15, 2019, the third Committee at the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly adopted resolution (A/C37/74/L.49) proclaiming 18 September as International Equal Pay Day. Introducing the resolution to the committee were Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC) members’ Iceland with the support of, Australia, Canada, Germany, Panama, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland. The resolution was co-sponsored by a total of 105 member states. As well as recognising the contribution of workers’ and employers’ organizations, and businesses, the resolution also acknowledged the work and contribution of EPIC to achieving equal pay.

According to Iceland’s Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thor “International days like these have proven their worth and served to highlight important issues amongst the general public and governments around the world, and we hope this International Equal Pay day will also be successful in this regard.”

The day calls on UN member states as well as International Organizations, Workers’ and Employers’ Organisations, Civil Society including NGOs and the private sector to celebrate Equal Pay Day. The day will galvanise further action towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goal 8.5 equal pay for work of equal value.

Source: ILO | Click here to explore ILO’s country-specific gender pay gap data

The pandemic year has seen a lot of job cuts and wage drops. A significant wage drop, however, is seen majorly by women in developing countries. Unfounded gender stereotypes also form a basis for this as the majority of the household chores are performed by women, leading to a decrease in participation in the active workforce. 

Despite significant progress in women’s education, the gender pay gap has not decreased. Therefore, it is important to recognize the importance of reducing this gap, for which the 18th of September is marked as the International Equal Pay Day. 

By marking this day the UNGA expresses deep concern over slow progress in bridging the wage gap between men and women. On this day, all stakeholders are encouraged to take steps to achieve the goal of reducing the wage gap. This goal is also directly linked to other Sustainable Development Goals like Goal 5 (gender equality) and Goal 10 (reduced inequalities). 

This is especially important, given that Covid-19 has set back on the progress that was already achieved in terms of education and employability of women. It has been observed that due to the onslaught of the pandemic, families are withdrawing their children, especially women, from schools and universities, thus reducing their participation in the labor force. 

It has also been observed that many families are marrying their daughters off before the legal age, which is severely restricting their future potential growth. Therefore, this day has become all the more important to recognize that equal pay will pave the way for the overall well-being of women and humankind by contributing to goals that are directly or indirectly linked to this goal. 

Some Facts:

  • Women earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn for work of equal value – with an even wider wage gap for women with children.
  • At this rate, it will take the next 257 years to close the global gender pay gap.
  • Women are concentrated in lower-paid, lower-skill work with greater job insecurity and under-represented in decision-making roles.
  • Women carry out at least two and a half times more unpaid household and care work than men.

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Shristi Banerjee

Lawyer, Jharkhand High Court (India)

Global Representative (India), Roya Institute of Global Justice