Women work for free more than a month every year because of the gender pay gap and things will only get worse if nothing is done, according to the director of the Centre for Labour Studies.
The pay gap nearly tripled over four years in this country: from 4.5% in 2014 to 11% this year. The overall earning gap stands at nearly 50%.
“The gap looks like it is set to widen, with women continuing to enter low-paying jobs and mothers finding it difficult to advance in their career because of short school hours and no flexible working hours, among other things,” Anna Borg told the Times of Malta.
“At the same time, women continue to be seen as add-ons, in that they do not work for the sake of working but to support their male partner as the main breadwinner,” Dr Borg said ahead of a conference on Friday themed Closing the Gender Pay Gap.
We do not even have a national plan to improve gender equality
With the wage gap standing at 11%, it meant that, for every 100c a man earns, a woman gets just 89c. In other words, after November 19, women in Malta will be working for free for the rest of the year, she said to illustrate her point.
"The huge steps taken about LGBTIQ issues are commendable. I wish the same energy and attention by politicians and policymakers were dedicated to gender issues."
Dr Borg noted that the issue of the gender wage gap had long been left on the shelf: “It is not enough that more women enter the labour market. We need to take into consideration their wages, whether a lack of flexibility is stressing and tiring them out and how easy it is for them to work their way up.”
Such a shift in mentality would not happen overnight, because the culture of discrimination had been ingrained in people’s psyche for centuries, she remarked.
Equal work, unequal pay
In the mid-19th century, women in the US received half of what men did, while until 1976, it was legal for women in Malta to earn three-quarters of what men did.
Most recently, a top BBC journalist resigned after learning that her male colleagues were earning 50% more than her.
Policymakers had to start taking action now, Dr Borg said, adding that in recent years, one administration after the other introduced sporadic incentives but there was no concerted effort to address gender issues.
“Such issues have been put on the backburner, unlike others that have been fast-tracked. The huge steps taken about LGBTIQ issues are commendable. I wish the same energy and attention by politicians and policymakers were dedicated to gender issues and to the issue of violence on women, especially considering the fact that these impact at least 50% of the population.
“We do not even have a national plan to improve gender equality. If you do not set benchmarks, employ resources and set a budget, how can we improve gender issues?” Dr Borg asked.
Friday’s conference, organised by the President’s Foundation for the Well-being of Society, starts at 9am at San Anton Palace.
Those interested can call on 2148 4662 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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