257 years — that is how long it will take to close the pay gap between the salaries of men and women, as per the World Economic Forum. This quantification signifies that human society has left women behind in economic terms by more than two-and-a-half centuries, even if we set aside the oppression and other inequalities existing for centuries.
“Globally, despite decades of activism, and dozens of laws on equal pay, women still earn less than 80 cents for every dollar men do,” says the UN Secretary-General António Guterres in a statement. Guterres emphasises that this inequality is even bigger for women with children, women of colour, women migrants and refugees, and women with disabilities.
“To build momentum around the urgent need to address the gender pay gap,” the United Nations observes the International Equal Pay Day on September 18 each year. The first International Equal Pay Day was observed in 2020 and this year marks the second edition of this international reminder. The observance represents the longstanding struggle of women for equal pay for the work of equal value. Currently, on a global average, women earn 23% less than men for work of the same value.
This figure is worse in India that ranks 151st among 156 countries in the Global Gender Gap Index for Economic Participation and Opportunity, as per Global Gender Gap Report 2021 by the World Economic Forum. Except for Afghanistan and Pakistan, every other South Asian country in the index has better economic conditions for women than India.
In the United States, the Equal Pay Day also represents the women’s movement for Equal Pay as a day till when women have to work to earn as much as their male counterparts have earned during the previous year. For example, it was March 24 for 2021, which means to make as much money as a man would make in their job in the year 2020, a woman would have to work from January 1, 2020, to March 24, 2021. Women taking part in the Equal Pay Day movement choose to wear something red on the Equal Pay Day, in this case, March 24, 2021.