March 8th marks International Women’s Day, a gender-focused event celebrating the achievements of women around the world. But the day also serves as a reminder that women all over the world still experience inequalities in education, access to opportunities, and pay.
According to numbers published by UN Women, women still only earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men… that is for work of equal value. Sadly, this gap exists across all countries and industries.
“This stubborn inequality in the average wages between men and women persists in all countries and across all sectors because women’s work is under-valued and women tend to be concentrated in different jobs than men. Even though the work itself may require equal or more effort and skills, it’s valued and remunerated less. For women of color, immigrant women and mothers, the gap widens. The so-called “motherhood penalty” pushes women into informal economy, casual and part-time work, and tends to be larger in developing countries than in developed countries.”
And things are slow to change. Current projections tell us that it could be as long as 2069 before we may see equality in pay.
While inequality in pay is a consequence of the many inequalities faced by women every day, it has far reaching consequences, particularly as women age.
Because there’s not just a gap when it comes to pay for equal work, later on, there is also a gap when it comes to retirement income.
- Since women on average are paid one-third less than men, naturally their savings, investments, and pension contributions are lower than those of men.
- Many women temporarily leave the workforce to raise children or care for sick or elderly family members. The work they provide is extremely valuable, yet unpaid and does not contribute toward their retirement income.
- Additionally, women tend to live longer than men. This means many will have to live on less during their retirement years because savings and investments have to last longer.
But International Women’s Day is not only about inequalities in pay. It is about advancing the quality of life for every woman around the globe.
That’s why the “United Nations General Assembly created UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.”
The organization works to:
- Eliminates discrimination against women and girls
- Empower women
- Achieve equality between women and men as partners and beneficiaries of development, human rights, humanitarian action and peace and security.”
While we’ve seen advancements in the lives of women and made real progress, there is lots of work left to be done. International Women’s Day is but one way to remind us of what’s possible and yet to come.
So for now, let’s celebrate this International Women’s Day and all women everywhere, for we do hold up half the sky!