Mao Zedong said that “women hold up half the sky”. If women do half the work, why has equal pay not yet been achieved? It is not right that, on average, young working women in sub-Saharan Africa earn only 82% of what their male counterparts earn.
Equal pay for equal work is a key right. It is essential to human dignity and is written into many countries’ laws. For work of the same value, women must receive the same salary and the same benefits as their male colleagues.
But why is equality of pay so important? Life is meant to be lived happily. Equal pay for equal work helps achieve a happy life. By rewarding women’s efforts equally and encouraging female participation in the workplace it is not just women that benefit. Equality makes everyone more prosperous: businesses, economies, and families.
WHY EQUAL PAY HELPS BUSINESSES
Women are increasingly doing jobs that used to be done by men. Many of the world’s leading CEOs and Heads of State are now women. As the number of women in education increases many of the most skilled candidates for jobs are women. However, women must be incentivized or encouraged to continue from education to work. Equal pay is one of the most important incentives. When women are discouraged from working, businesses have a smaller pool of talent from which to hire. When women are encouraged to give up work the benefits of investment in women’s education are not seen.
WHY EQUAL PAY HELPS WHOLE ECONOMIES
According to the International Monetary Fund, whole economies will continue to lose out until equal pay for equal work is achieved. For example if women and men had more equality at work the GDP of Egypt would increase by 34%.
By encouraging more women to work, the size of a country’s workforce is increased. By increasing the number of people working, business growth and demand for goods are increased too. This increases the size of the economy and makes everyone richer.
WHY EQUAL PAY HELPS COMMUNITIES AND FAMILIES
Equality of pay can help families on two levels. Firstly bringing up children is a joint effort and working women are able to take on more responsibility for the family as a whole. A good salary helps women to eat well and drink safe water. They can take better care of themselves as well as their children. When women work their family is richer and more successful.
Secondly working women provide their children with strong female role models. This increases respect for women across whole communities and encourages children to be more ambitious about what they can achieve.
Photo Credit: Tasha Mapenzi Munira