Women working in the health and care sector earn nearly 25 per cent less than their male counterparts – a larger gender pay gap than in other economic sectors, the United Nations says.
A spokesman for the UN, Farhan Haq, disclosed this at a news conference at UN headquarters, New York on Thursday.
Mr Haq, briefing on ‘The Gender Pay Gap in the Health and Care Sector: a Global Analysis in the Time of COVID-19’, published by the ILO and WHO, said the report noted the wage gap was unexplained, perhaps due to discrimination toward women – who account for 67 per cent of health and care workers worldwide.
“The report also finds that wages in the health and care sector tend to be lower overall, when compared with other economic sectors. This is consistent with the finding that wages often are lower in economic sectors where women are predominant,” he said.
ILO and WHO also pointed out that even with the COVID-19 pandemic and the crucial role played by health and care workers, there were only marginal improvements in pay equality between 2019 and 2020.
Meanwhile, the report documented a raw gender pay gap of roughly 20 percentage points which jumped to 24 percentage points when factors such as age, education and working time are taken into account.
While much of the gap is unexplained, the agencies said it was perhaps due to discrimination towards women, who account for nearly 70 per cent of health and care workers worldwide.
The report also revealed that wages in health and care tend to be lower overall when compared with other sectors, which is consistent with the finding that wages often are lower in areas where women are predominant.
Furthermore, even with the pandemic, and the crucial role played by health and care workers during the crisis, there were only marginal improvements in pay equality between 2019 and 2020.
“The health and care sector has endured low pay in general, stubbornly large gender pay gaps, and very demanding working conditions,” said Manuela Tomei, director of Conditions of Work and Equality Department at the ILO. “The COVID-19 pandemic clearly exposed this situation while also demonstrating how vital the sector and its workers are in keeping families, societies and economies going.”
The report also found a wide variation in gender pay gaps in different countries, indicating that the gaps are not inevitable and that more can be done to close the divide.
Within countries, gender pay gaps tend to be wider in higher pay categories, where men are over-represented, while women are over-represented in the lower pay categories.
Mothers working in the health and care sector also appear to suffer additional penalties, with gender pay gaps significantly increasing during a woman’s reproductive years and persisting throughout the rest of her working life. (NAN)