International Equal Pay Day 2020: Achieving Pay Equity through Social Dialogue


18 September 2020 - In spite of significant progress in women’s education and higher rates of female labour market participation in many countries, women around the world continue to be paid less than men. Globally, the gender pay gap, which is a widely used indicator of gender inequality in the world of work, stands at about 20%.


The right to equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of equal value is a prerequisite to achieving gender equality in the world of work. The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and, in particular, its target 8.5, sets out the aim to achieve by 2030 “equal pay for work of equal value” and proposes as a main indicator to compare “average hourly earnings of female and male employees”.


The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has had a major impact on women, heightening gender inequalities at work and at home. Women have been at the core of the battle against the pandemic as they make up two-thirds of the health workforce worldwide and they have been hit more severely than men by the short-term economic fallout from COVID-19. For example, large numbers of women are employed in the service sectors most affected by the lockdown. Furthermore, in developing countries, women are among the most vulnerable workers within the informal economy. The crisis has also increased women’s unpaid care work and has amplified the exposure to domestic violence.


New initiatives such as the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC), led by the ILO, the OECD and UN Women, bring together governments, employers, workers, and their organisations to make concrete and coordinated progress towards realising the goal of equal pay for women and men everywhere.


On this first International Equal Pay Day, the Global Deal partnership emphasises the need to accelerate change with the objective of achieving pay equity and promoting gender equality in the world of work, including through social dialogue and joint action by governments as well as employers’ and workers’ organisations. The Global Deal publication “The Contribution of Social Dialogue to Gender Equality” highlights how social partners have used social dialogue to deliver gender-equal outcomes in a range of different sectors, including in the area of equal pay for work of equal value.


Many Global Deal partners have also made voluntary commitments and are taking concrete actions to achieve equal pay and promote gender equality through social dialogue. The second edition of the Global Deal Flagship Report “Social Dialogue, Skills and COVID-19” will showcase these commitments and highlight good practices that can lead to better outcomes. The report will be launched at a high-level event on 20 October 2020.


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