As Iceland continues to rule the gender pay index, India still has a long way to go

The Icelandic parliament has presented a bill that would require public and private businesses to prove they offer equal pay to employees, in what would be the first such requirement in the world. Currently, Iceland is ranked first in the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Gender Gap Index, while the United States is ranked 45. In 2006, the United States was ranked 23rd.

While Iceland achieved history, the United States observed Tuesday as Equal Pay Opportunity Day. While a number of individuals have called to bridge the pay gap in the country, the Donald Trump-led administration revoked the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order then-President Barack Obama put in place to ensure that companies with federal contracts comply with 14 labour and civil rights laws on March 27.

Trump’s move comes at time when The World Economic Forum report also suggested that it would take at least another century and a half before the gender pay gap will be equal.

In 2016, recruitment solutions provider Monster India released a report called the ‘The ‘Monster Salary Index’ (MSI), which focused on gender pay parity .The report suggested that despite initiatives on equal pay, 62.4 per cent women felt that their male counterparts had a greater chance of getting promotions.

What is the Equal Remuneration Act of 1976?
In 1976, the Equal Remuneration Act was passed with the aim of providing equal remuneration to men and women workers and to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender in all matters relating to employment and employment opportunities. This legislation not only provides women with a right to demand equal pay, but any inequality with respect to recruitment processes, job training, promotions, and transfers within the organisation can also be challenged under this Act.

​The overall gender pay gap in 2016 amounts to 25 percent — a 2 percentage points drop from the 27 percent gap in 2015, the survey noted.

During the same period, Accenture Research conducted a study that said that much of this gap is caused by the fact that there are more men than women in high paying functional and leadership roles, in addition to factors such as education levels, industry segment and hours worked. India is currently ranked 87th of the 144 countries that were studied by the World Economic Forum in 2016.

Although the Supreme Court of India said that ‘equal pay for equal’ work is an unambiguous constitutional right, even for people working temporary jobs, people have said implementing it will be difficult.

The good news is that since 2007, the gender pay gap in India has constantly been decreasing. While it was 44.80 per cent in 2007, it is The gender pay gap in India for the year 2013 was 24.81%.

Here’s the bad news: The World Economic Forum’s prediction that gender gap when it comes to pay will be equal in a century is alarming, but not surprising. The numbers when it comes to daily wage labour in India. According to a report by the International Monetary Fund in 2015, women labourers earned Rs 120 per day, while males earned Rs 194. Furthermore, as a report in Zeebiz in January this year said, quoting an Oxfam report “More than 40% of the 400 million women who live in rural India are involved in agriculture and related activities. However, as women are not recognised as farmers and do not own land, they have limited access to government schemes and credit, restricting their agricultural productivity.”

Meanwhile, an Economic Times report suggests that the starting point for India Inc could be a rigorous internal audit to see if there are big gaps in compensation for genders. While this may sound practical for India Inc, there is still a lot to be done to bridge the gap amongst the daily wage workers. And unless we do something quickly, the World Economic Forum report suggesting that equal pay may happen only next century may actually be true.

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