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In a post-COVID-19 context, promoting equal pay for women on a global scale is a prerequisite for nations to achieve gender equality. However, according to a recent World Economic Forum Report, it is estimated that closing the gender pay gap will take another 136 years.
While we as a global community have made significant progress in mainstreaming gender equity across our social institutions, there is arguably a significant way to go in terms of dismantling the systemic barriers that preclude women from achieving financial equity.
The pandemic exacerbated gender disparities in caregiving responsibilities, forcing numerous women to exit formal employment due to childcare demands. Similarly, industries characterised by a predominantly female workforce, such as education, hospitality, and retail, experienced substantial reductions in both working hours and compensation.
To close the gender pay gap, the key lies in creating intergenerational dialogue through the meaningful inclusion of young people in spaces of power, and throughout our global and regional networks.
As we face this challenge to get back on track, I believe that rather than viewing this additional time as a setback, we can instead harness it as a catalyst for positive transformations in addressing complex policy issues. To close the gender pay gap, the key lies in creating intergenerational dialogue through the meaningful inclusion of young people in spaces of power, and throughout our global and regional networks.
As the future and current leaders of our local communities, our generation possesses the first-hand experiences and determination needed to concretise ambitious goals into policy reform to create change. In the spirit of the International Day of Equal Pay, there are numerous ways that organisations and governments can use the perspectives and insights of young people to formulate innovative solutions to closing the pay gap.
1. Leverage digital technology for upskilling and interactive learning to empower young women from marginalised backgrounds.
COVID-19 has exacerbated job insecurity for female-dominated industries and the informal economy, disproportionately affecting the wages of young women with diverse identities who are more likely to be in precarious employment. By making upskilling and negotiation opportunities financially accessible, governments can give younger women the opportunities to further their professional skills and competitively enter professions that have historically excluded women from participation. While pay transparency measures for large organisations have been largely effective, nations can use education as a tool to address pay disparities and give younger women the tertiary development opportunities that are needed for social mobility. Particularly for young women like me from non-metropolitan Australia, gaining the necessary qualifications and skills to access formal employment can be costly and time-consuming - usually requiring expensive geographical relocation to do so. As younger people who tend to be digitally literate, we can advise on the development of multimedia content to ensure that the resources used in upskilling courses align with specific needs of our generation. We can ensure that content is engaging and informative, and use our lived experience as young women to aid providers in generating useful programmes to support entry into high-wage industries.
More on the Forum Network: Can pay transparency close gender gaps? It depends on design, by Valerie Frey, Senior Economist, OECD.
Too often the work of identifying, raising and rectifying pay inequality still rests on individual workers and their representatives. Governments must embed gender pay gap reporting in broader policy efforts to end gender inequalities in workplaces, in society and at home, emphasises Valerie Frey.
2. Support young women’s political participation at local and national levels.
For the gender pay gap to be addressed, young women need to be given not just a seat at table, but the capacity to enact policy decisions as elected representatives of their community. By funding independent programmes that democratise the often exclusionary inner-workings of politics, young women can ensure that governments incorporate gender-mainstreaming into every step of the legislative process. We can use our collective influence by pushing policymakers to formalise innovative mechanisms such as the OECD Gender Budgeting Framework to support pay equity, and ensure that they remain accountable in doing so. When given the resources to become engaged in the political spheres of our own countries, young women can advocate for measures such as corporate incentives for gender equality, gender-blind recruitment algorithms, and the ethical gathering of gender disaggregated data to inform future responses. As young women, we have the power to ‘shake things up’ in outdated institutions. With the right support in the form of civic empowerment, all of us can create a political culture that genuinely prioritises initiatives, such as gender-equal parental leave, to rectify the barriers that stand in the way of closing the gender pay gap.
3. Mentorship and collaborative entrepreneurship for young women, by young women.
Creating supportive intergenerational partnerships between women across the public and private sector can provide a supportive environment for pay equity projects to flourish. By uniting women from all ages and from all backgrounds who have skills in technology, finance, policy and communications, we can come together around ideas that inspire us and develop interdisciplinary approaches to address pay equity in a new light. Dismantling systemic gender bias is a task that requires teamwork, and facilitating mentorship can enhance existing efforts by allowing women to grow and learn from one another. For us as young women to become pioneering changemakers in our fields, we need to have access to expansive networks of learning and innovate.
By including young women in meaningful dialogue in spaces of power, international organisations can enhance existing initiatives to address the gender pay gap - while strategising future solutions to ensure gender justice. Through intergenerational collaboration, we all can work towards a fairer and inclusive world that values the empowerment of all women.
Learn more about OECD's work on Gender Wage Gap:
Reporting Gender Pay Gaps in OECD Countries, Guidance for Transparency Implementation, Monitoring and Reform.
Pay transparency policies are gaining momentum throughout the OECD. Over half of OECD countries require private sector firms to report their gender pay gap statistics regularly to stakeholders like employees, employee representatives, the government, and/or the public.