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by Wayne Campbell
“We need to ask why women are relegated to lower-paid work; why professions that are female-dominated have lower salaries – including jobs in the care sector; why so many women work part-time; why women see their wages decrease with motherhood while men with children often enjoy a salary boost; and why women hit a ceiling in higher-earning professions.”– UN Secretary-General, António Guterres.
We have been socialised to take many of society’s social ills as gospel. Those of us who dare to question the discriminatory practices of human socialisation are more often than not ostracised.
It takes a community to bring about real and lasting changes to the systemic and structural discriminatory practices which have been the cornerstone of many societies over the centuries.
Historically, these unfair practices are implemented to keep women subdued and subjected to men in an ideology steeped in patriarchy as well as sexism.
Patriarchy is defined in the International Encyclopedia of Human Geography as a system of political, social, and economic relations and institutions structured around the gender inequality of socially defined men and women. Within patriarchal relations, women are collectively excluded from full participation in political and economic life
Those attributes seen as ‘feminine’ or as pertaining to women are undervalued. Patriarchal relations structure both the private and public spheres, with men dominating both domestic and public life. Sexism is the belief that one sex is superior to or more valuable than another sex. It imposes limits on what men and boys can and should do and what women and girls can and should do.
The concept of sexism was originally formulated to raise consciousness about the oppression of girls and women. The issue of equal pay for equal work has been contentious for the years. Advocates for gender equality are staunch in their support and activism that women and men should receive equal pay for the same work.
A deeper analysis of patriarchy reveals how intricately linked the political system and governance systems are in the promotion of patriarchy in almost all societies. Disturbingly, in a number of societies women are excluded from political representation. One such country where this is evident is Afghanistan. The Taliban which now has control of the country have excluded women from holding any political office.
The all male group have gone even further by excluding girls from receiving a secondary education. In a report carried by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the Taliban have excluded girls from Afghan secondary schools, after they ordered only boys and male teachers to return to the classroom.
A number of schoolgirls told the BBC they were devastated not to be returning. “Everything looks very dark,” one said. A Taliban spokesman said there were plans to open girls’ schools soon. But there are fears Afghanistan is returning to the harsh rule of the 1990s when a similar ban on girls’ schooling was in place.
Gender pay gap
One area where the gender pay gap is glaring is that of professional sports. The United States Open tennis tournament is one of the first international sporting tournaments to guarantee both the male and female winner the same pay; unlike many other sports such as cricket and football where the women’s teams are paid less.
The average American woman earns 81 per cent of what an average American man earns, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And this stark disparity has hardly budged for more than a decade: the pay gap between men and women has sat at 80 per cent-83
per cent since 2004.
The gap varies by industry, according to Payscale: the legal profession has the worst discrepancy at 64 per cent, while arts, entertainment and sports come in well above average at 94 per cent While this is heartening for advocates of equal pay, there is still progress that needs to be made especially when it comes to professional sports. According to the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report, issued on 17 December 2019, it will not be until the year 2277 that women, on average, can expect equal pay for work of equal value. Alarmingly, that is 256 years away.
We compare average salaries of male players versus female players across sports like basketball, soccer and tennis, and highlight some of the major steps forward in the pursuit for equal pay.
Average Player Compensation per Sport, 2019
SPORTS MEN WOMEN
Basketball (NBA & WNBA) $8,321,937 $75,181
Golf (PGA & LPGA) $1,235,495 $48,993
Soccer (MLS & NWSL) $410,730 $35,000
Softball/Baseball (MLB & NPF)$4,031,549 $6,000
Tennis (ATP & WTA) $335,946 $283,635
Sources: CareerTrend (NPF); ESPN (PGA & LPGA); Global Sports Salaries (MLB, MLS, NBA, WNBA); NWSLSoccer.com (NWSL); Tennis.com (ATP; WTA)
According to the United Nations, equal pay builds on the UN commitment to human rights and against all forms of discrimination, including discrimination against women and girls. Closing the pay gap is quintessential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 5 on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls and Goal 8.5 on ensuring equal pay for work
of equal value.
The United Nations has set aside September 18 as the International Equal Pay Day in order to raise awareness of the issues surrounding gender parity and gender pay day. In 2021 the international community is commemorating the second annual International Equal Pay Day. It is a time to promote action towards achieving equal pay for equal value. On average, women make 80 cents for every dollar men earn for equal work.
That figure is even less for women of colour and those with children. The current COVID-19 pandemic
has highlighted also the gender pay gap across geographical boundaries.
Around the world, women are at the frontline of the pandemic, they make up the majority of the health and social care workers, yet they are still paid less than their male colleagues. The time has come for all well thinking individuals to join in advocating for equal pay for equal work.
We need to move towards a culture of pay equity where one’s biological sex does not determine one’s value. Regrettably, it is the undervaluing of women in many societies which undermines a culture of pay equity.
The international community working with Non-Governmental Organisations NGO’s must find ways
to dismantle the discrimination and harmful practices of patriarchy and gender stereotypes that contribute to gender pay gap.
The fight for equal pay for equal work requires a renewal of resources and discussion both in the domestic and public spheres in order to bring about a cultural change. There is much work to be done!
In the words of Beyonce, men have to demand that their wives, daughters, mothers and sisters earn more commensurate with their qualifications and not their gender. Equality will be achieved when men and women are granted equal pay and equal respect.
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues. [email protected] @WayneCamo © #internationalequalpayday #sexism #patriarchy #gender #payequity #genderparity