Global Wage Report 2018/19: What lies behind Gender Pay Gap

The ILO country office for Pakistan organised a technical session on the Global Wage Report 2018/19 as part of its centenary activities.

Press release | Islamabad, Pakistan | 28 November 2018
ISLAMABAD (ILO News): As part of the ILO Country Office for Pakistan’s centenary activities, a technical session on the Global Wage Report 2018/19 was organised jointly by the ILO project on ‘Labour Standards in Global Supply Chains: A Programme of Action for Asia and the Garment Sector’ (LSGSC) project, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and ILO’s Project ‘Sustaining strengthened national capacities to improve ILS compliance and reporting in relevant EU trading partners’ (DEVCO), funded by the EU. The session drew the participation of various stakeholders such as; Department of Labour representing Provincial Governments, Workers representatives, transgender communities, academia, UN agencies and development partners. The findings of the report were presented by Mr Xavier Estupinan, ILO Wages Specialist, Decent Work Technical Team – South Asia.

The Global Wage Report is a flagship publication of the ILO that highlights important wage trends. This 2018/19 Global Wage Report highlights gender pay gaps as a phenomenon which represents one of today’s greatest social injustices. The report indicates that gender inequalities in pay is a problem in all countries and that, on average, women earn 20 per cent less than men globally. Factors that often determine wages such as education do not full account for observed gender pay gaps around the world.

The report shows that mothers earn less than non-mothers which the report refers to as the “motherhood gap”. Lower wages for mothers may be related to a host of factors including labour market interruptions, reduction in working time, and employment in more family friendly jobs. The tendency for wages to be lower in enterprises where the workforce is predominantly made up of women compared to those with similar productivity profile, but with a different gender mix.

The report indicates that the global wage growth fell to 1.8 per cent in 2017, the lowest growth rate since before the Global Financial Crisis in 2008. Possible explanations for subdued wage growth include: Slow productivity growth, intensification of global competition, decline in bargaining power of workers and an uncertain economic outlook that may have discouraged firms from increasing wages.

The report also highlights the wage and gender wage gap situation in Pakistan. According to the report, Pakistan has the highest overall hourly average (mean) gender pay gap of the 73 countries for which comparable data are available. In particular the gender pay gap for Pakistan was identified to be 34 per cent, which is more than double the global average. Moreover, the report finds that women account for almost 90 per cent of the bottom 1 per cent of wage earners in Pakistan.

Ms Ingrid Christensen, Country Director, ILO Country Office for Pakistan welcomed the participants to the session and stressed the need for joint thinking on reducing income inequalities, and said that one way to accelerate progress on closing the gap is to better understand what lies behind gender pay gaps in different national circumstances.

To support Pakistan to address the gender pay gap challenge, the ILO in Pakistan is ready to provide relevant technical assistance to the Federal and Provincial Governments in making progress and reporting on the governments’ obligations, under international law, in particular the ILO Equal Remuneration Convention (No. 100) and the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention (No.111). Consistent advocacy, outreach and awareness raising is creating momentum and translating into concrete outcomes, such as the recent adoption of a new Domestic Workers Policy in Punjab province and the Home-Based Workers Act in Sindh province.

Participants raised the issue of invisibility of workers in the informal economy and the large numbers of home-based workers, domestic workers, unpaid family workers and refugees that are not accounted for in Pakistan’s labour force statistics.

Participants drew attention to the fact that weak linkages between technical training and education often relegates women into working in low paying jobs and working environments where they face harassment and violence. A key recommendation agreed by all participants was that inculcating social change and portraying working women positively is important and a collective responsibility of everyone.

Ms Belinda Chanda, Programme Analyst, ILO Country Office for Pakistan said that it was an agreed fact that capacities for data collection and analysis needed to be strengthened on the issue of gender pay gaps in Pakistan. She added that integrated actions stemming from existing policies and precedent to close persistent gender pay gaps was vital. She re-echoed the participants concern regarding low female labour force participation as one factor that served to widen the gender pay gap in Pakistan. Ms Chanda highlighted how addressing the gender pay gap contributed to the realization of ‘decent work’, in serving to uphold fundamental principles and rights at work and the nexus with core issues associated with the implementation of minimum wages, social protection, and their collective impact on the most vulnerable groups of society among, and in particular women.

Consensus was reached on access to decent work environment, family friendly workplaces, safe transportation for commuting to and from work, the importance of quality childcare services, inclusive employment opportunities for all including transgender persons, addressing stereotypes, awareness raising on the value of alternative work modalities for women, as ways to move forward for closing the gender pay gap and a means to achieving social justice for working women in Pakistan.

Together with the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC), a joint initiative of the ILO, UN Women and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the ILO hopes that the Global Wage Report 2018-2019 will contribute towards the achievement of Target 8.5 of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 i.e. to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value. See further.

The Global Wage Report 2018-2019 is available here. 

This interactive chart enables users to compare key findings of the Global Wage Report 2018-2019 for Pakistan against those of other countries and global averages.

For further information, contact the ILO Country Office for Pakistan.