Ethical Performance
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G20 urged to push equal pay agenda

August 2014

Women won’t be paid as much as men for another 75 years according to a report released by Oxfam International, which urges G20 leaders to tackle gender inequality when they meet in Australia later this year.

The G20 and gender equality – How the G20 can advance women’s rights in employment, social protection and fiscal policies shows how the G20’s growth ambitions cannot be realised without policies addressing systemic discrimination and economic exclusion of women across G20 countries.

The report, co-published with the Heinrich Boll Foundation, is being released as the Business 20 (B20) – one of the satellite conferences in the lead-up to the G20 Leaders Summit in Brisbane in November - meets in Sydney this week.

Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima said that across G20 countries and beyond, women were paid less than men, did most of the unpaid labour, were over-represented in part-time work and were discriminated against in the household, markets and institutions.

“This gap between women and men reflects a fundamental and entrenched form of inequality afflicting G20 countries, despite the gains that have undoubtedly been made in some areas,” Byanyima said.

Depending on the country context, an extra 20 – 60% would be added to the GDP of individual G20 countries if the hidden contribution of unpaid work – such as caring for children or carrying out housework – was recognised and valued.
Byanyima commented: “Meanwhile, if women’s paid employment rates were the same as men’s, the USA’s GDP would increase by 9%, the Eurozone’s by 13% and Japan’s by 16%.”

She said the absence of women’s rights drove poverty, while their fulfilment could drive development.

“The G20’s growth and development can only be considered inclusive – and can only make a positive difference to people – when women and men have equal opportunities to benefit, human rights are fulfilled and sustainable development is pursued,” Byanyima said. “These are not ‘women’s issues’ alone – they are systemic issues that determine the wellbeing of everyone, in rich and poor countries alike.”

Among Oxfam’s recommendations for the G20 are: to support an accountable post-2015 UN process and inclusion of standalone goals on extreme economic inequality, gender equality and women’s rights; to target employment policies to create decent jobs for women, eliminate gender wage gaps and occupational segregation; end workplace gender discrimination and promote family-friendly policies.

Oxfam | Global | Equality

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