On CNN yesterday(July 20,2014), I was following a debate on income inequality between Former Secretary of state, Hilary Clinton and another frontline lady- Senator Elizabeth Warren. I could not but take a deep thought on this age long phenomenon which has defied common sense reasoning. I keep wondering if this situation still persists in ‘supposed’ advanced economy what is the hope of women living within developing countries.
The male to female income difference which some called ‘gender gap in earnings’ has been entrenched in the society through tradition. Gender gap in earning has been calculated as the gap between the ratio of women to men median yearly earnings among full –time year round workers. From studies in United States, most women often earn less than 19% of what their male counterparts earned. With this disparity, many often claimed, despite noted effort, the income inequality is a necessary evil. The only reason attributed to this has been placed at the door of gender discrimination. From every indication and despite efforts, there has not been any noticeable change in this inequality for a decade.
In another study carried out in the United States, it was confirmed that women of color suffered more from gender income disparity than men. This is also confirmed to be so for women without children. This then brings us back home to Africa and other developing Countries. We must acknowledge data is an issue in most of these countries. One can hardly find accurate data to ascertain this position. But some of the reasons gotten from one on one enquiry include women often take more excuses from work than men.
They also said certain demanding, time consuming duties are avoided by womenfolk because they had to attend to other essential ‘non-paid- for’ duties at home. Another excuse by some organizations is that since most men are breadwinners for their wives and children, it is not out of place to allow such income inequality to thrive. The truth of the matter is that this opinion is just a stereotype. With more women getting education and been fully engaged, they are gradually taking up such roles in most homes. If we must address this injustice, here are few issues we need to focus on.
Education: One sure way to fight ignorance is through knowledge or education. With recent United Nations report, it appears more girls who transit to women are finishing basic education while the rate of those who are graduating from high school, college is still low. It is therefore important to get our girls back to school and encourage them to stay on. This will delay early marriage in pursuit of rights skills which can help women compete favourably with their male counterparts.
Though it has been established also that more education may be an effective tool to increase earnings but it is worthy of note this may not absolutely guarantee or guide against gender income inequality. Whatever happens, the journey to total freedom begins with acquisition of right knowledge. Pursuit of right educational qualification should not be under- promoted despite this contour on the road to progress.
Policy and women involvement: Where there are now guidelines with appropriate sanctions, evil will spread. Right Policy (guidelines) must be put in place at every different level. This must begin with equal representation of women in Policy making groups/Parliaments. Relevant United Nations Agencies like United Nations Women among others must step up their voices in promoting right policies in this regard across the world. Women must be actively engaged in issues that affect them. A male dominated committee making policy for women is prone to error. Only those who wear the shoe can understand better where it pinches.
Enabling Acts: as good as policies are, without enabling Acts which stipulate strict adherence to execution, implementation processes, policy will become a toothless bulldog. There must be a strong follow up from policy creation to implementation and deliveries with ongoing measurement which help to ascertain policy efficacy.
Advocacy: in addition to the above, a continuous advocacy around the Policy created will help in no small way to drag home the point. To be effective, this high level advocacy must be supported by every stakeholder and carried out at the global level. No one, woman or man should be given bad name or persecuted for saying the obvious truth. This is usually the case in most developing Countries where women involved in such activities are considered stubborn on rude to male folk.
Risk taking and balanced choices: the world of work requires balanced choices between logics and emotions. In few cases, most women had allowed emotions to overtake the voice of reasons. Eventually they had made bad choices. Women must increased their strong decision making quotient and go for their dreams. We have seen cases where most women become silent when they lack required support from home. It is important for women to enjoy unalloyed commitment from their husbands or other male figures in their lives. Parents and especially fathers should build a sense of self-worth in their girls while growing up. It will go a long way