Consultation session on the gender pay gap in the textile and garment sector in Pakistan

A consultative session on Gender Pay Gap in Garment Sector attracted a diverse and articulate group of around 60 stakeholders. The event featured presentations on the quantitative and qualitative analysis and live Q&A. An expert panel commented on the drivers of pay discrimination and small facilitated groups focussed on how to address the various limitations of women’s pay and opportunities.

News | 22 November 2016
LAHORE (ILO News) - More than fifty representatives of government, trade unions, employers’ bodies, trade associations, enterprises, buyers, civil society, academia and workers participated in a consultation session to share, discuss and validate the preliminary findings of the ILO’s research report on wage discrimination and the gender pay gap in the textile and garment industry in Pakistan.

The report, by Dr Laurie Reijnders and Ms Frida Khan, combined statistical analysis of data from Pakistan’s Labour Force Survey with on-the-ground research across the formal and informal garment and textile industry.

The study’s initial findings show that when analysed on an hourly basis, men earn 34 per cent more than women: a gender pay gap of 26 per cent across Pakistan’s economy. The pay gap in the textile and garment industry, one in which a large number of women work, is higher, at 33 per cent.

The research looked in detail at the factors driving the gender pay gap. Occupational segregation emerged as a major factor, with women channelled into lower paying work, with fewer prospects for progression. Work interruptions, around marriage and child bearing, also impact significantly on women’s career and pay progressions. The presentations and discussions also focussed on the role of training and skills development in providing, or limiting, women’s work choices and pay prospects.

A panel of subject specialists, labour rights’ activists, researchers and legal experts shared their views on the findings and contributed to recommendations and strategies to address pay discrimination. The roles of trade unions, employers and workers in addressing work place opportunities and barriers to equality were debated.

Recognition of learning, skills and experience, access to subsidised and safe transportation, the availability of child care arrangements, trade unions and collective bargaining, women’s participation in trade unions, public-private training ventures in marketable skills, entrepreneurship and lifelong learning were discussed. The need to challenge gender-based stereotypes and assumptions and to broaden opportunities for women in Pakistan’s rapidly changing society was agreed.

The need to maintain pressure for change and to leverage opportunities, such as international buyers’ codes of conduct and consumer choices, was identified.

Ms Caroline Bates, Technical Advisor to the Labour Standards in Global Supply Chains project, said that the textile and garment sector is a beneficiary of GSP+, a large contributor to the national economy and employs a significant number of women across its value chain. She stressed the responsibilities of all stakeholders to work together in promoting gender equality and achieving decent work free form discrimination.