International Equal Pay Day was established in 2019 by the UN General Assembly to raise awareness of the gender pay gap across the world, draw attention to the systemic inequalities that inhibit progress towards women’s economic empowerment, and highlight efforts to close the gap. The day was first commemorated by the United Nations on September 18, 2020.
International Equal Pay Day was born from the United Nations’ recognition that the equal pay laws we have in America have failed to resolve the problem of unequal pay between genders.
In fact, the Global Gender Gap Report predicted that it won’t be until 2277 when women can expect equal pay for the same value of work, at the current rate of progress.
There are several factors as to why we still have gender pay disparity, and some of these include gender discrimination in the workforce (often hidden or inadvertent discrimination as a result of unconscious biases), the lack of adequate paid family and maternity care, and not enough work-life balance for mothers to take care of their children while working.
The average pay for women is lower than men’s in most countries across all industries. The numbers are even lower for women of color and women from other underrepresented or marginalized backgrounds. According to Payscale, the median salary for men in the U.S. is 18% higher than for women, and women earn 82 cents for every dollar earned by men.
International Equal Pay Day acknowledges this global issue and calls for action to reach equal pay for equal value of work. The day also sheds light on some of the achievements that have already been made to reach equality, the current efforts towards progress, and how organizations and people can support those efforts.
In 2021, the celebration of International Equal Pay Day focused on addressing gender disparity as it related to the COVID-19 pandemic and recognizing women’s contributions toward recovery while asking labor market actors to prioritize equal pay in the pandemic. Even though there has been continued progress towards closing the pay gap, there is more work to be done ahead.
Celebrating International Equal Pay Day and including it in your workplace calendar is one way to show your support and commitment to equal pay, regardless of gender. It’s also a way to remind your staff of the global issue and how everyone needs to be involved in the solution toward advancing gender equity.
But, remember that one of the best ways to honor the day is by having equitable practices in your workplace, including paying women the same compensation as men for the same amount and quality of work. Address issues such as gender discrimination, implicit biases, and the lack of support for working mothers to create a more inclusive environment where women can advance in their careers. If any employee wants to join a march, rally, or any other event for International Equal Pay Day, allow them to take the day off. While this is a day to address the issue of pay gap, it is also a day to acknowledge and celebrate women’s accomplishments.