Barbados has been recognised as one of the Caribbean countries leading the charge in closing the gender gap in the workplace, which has fueled the equal pay for equal work discord.
This is according to a just released report by UN Women, entitled, Status of Women and Men Report: A Gender Analysis of Labour Force Data and Policy Frameworks in Six CARICOM Member States.
In the summary of the report delivered by Deputy Representative of the UN Women Multi-Country Office, Tonni Brodber, it was noted that despite significant investments in education, structural barriers to gender equality and women’s empowerment persist in the labour market. The report provides a gender analysis of the labour force in six CARICOM Member States, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago.
However, Brodber revealed that Barbados and Jamaica were the two countries where the hourly rate for women is almost at the same level as their male counterparts. She also revealed that 49 per cent of the managers in the Barbadian workforce are women.
“Barbadian women earn on average 95.4 per cent of what Barbadian men earn. But when controlling for education, Barbados women who are educated up to the primary level earn four dollars less than their male counterparts; those who are educated up to the secondary school level earn $1.67 less; and 63 cents less than men if they are educated up to the university level. Women comprise 49 per cent of managers in Barbados,” Brodber revealed.
Barbados has also bettered the international averages when it comes to closing the gap between men and women finding employment after completing their university degrees. It was revealed that globally 41.5 per cent of women with a university degree are outside of the labour force or unemployed, but only 17.2 per cent of men are in this situation. In Barbados, 38 per cent of women are educated up to the tertiary level compared to 31 per cent of men. But the employment rate for Barbadian women, based on 2017 data, is 55 per cent compared to 63 per cent for men.
In the report, the island was praised for its initiatives in subsidizing nursery care, as unpaid care work was still one of the factors which kept women out of the workforce. In addition, it was revealed that Barbados was among a handful of countries, which have implemented sexual harassment legislation, an area which has also been identified as a major hindrance to women in the labour force.
“Globally, several research studies have confirmed that unpaid care work was the main reason women were outside the labour force. Universal access to day care from birth to three years old is therefore vital. Barbados, with its subsidised nursery programme, has and can continue to lead the way in reaching universal access to this key service,” Brodber pointed out.”
She added, “Data on the prevalence of sexual harassment in Barbados is not available. However, sexual harassment and violence do hinder women’s employment prospects and their productivity while at work. Barbados is one of a handful of CARICOM countries with sexual harassment legislation. More robust enforcement of this legislation can create a more enabling environment for women in the world of work.”
However, it was made clear that Government could not rest on its laurels, as there was much more work still to be done, if total gender equality is to be realized within the workplace.
Among the key recommendations coming out of the report were for the establishment of an ‘equal pay for work of equal value legislation’; the alleviation of the burden of unpaid work in the home through policies that enable women to reconcile paid and unpaid care responsibilities; improvement of access to quality, affordable childcare facilities; improvement of access to productive resources and an investigation of what can be done to expand entrepreneurial opportunities.”
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