This year, the US president Joe Biden sincerely addressed the issue of gender pay gap in his White House statement saying, “Equal pay is about justice, fairness, and who we are as a nation. It makes all of us stronger and it represents what America is truly about”. In a country like America which is known as “the land of opportunities”, the gender pay gap is significant. It varies from state to state. However, the percentage is much higher than that of Bangladesh. Currently, according to UN-ILO report, Bangladesh has the lowest gender pay gap ratio 2.2 per cent in the world compared to the average global gender pay gap which is 21.2 per cent. It is apparently a matter of pride for us. Still, we have to aim at increasing our GDP by empowering women in more high-ranked job positions.
Gender pay gap is the average difference between the annual remuneration for working men and women. Globally on average, women tend to earn less than men. The women’s rights movement started long time ago. Feminism as a socio-political movement emerged in the early 20th century with the issue of women’s voting rights. From then on, the spatiotemporal and situational phenomena have changed and modified Feminism. Nonetheless, it has always been concerned with gender equality in every sphere of life.
Before talking about the effective solutions, we need to look at the reasons first. In a magnificent era of women’s empowerment, we still have to deal with gender pay gap. There are a few unavoidable reasons which are universally true for almost all the countries. Since the globe has always been patriarchal, we have not fully come out of the conventional and stereotypical box of gender biased mindset. No matter how hardworking a female employee or candidate is, the gender biased recruitment team, even if that includes female recruiters, will prefer males to females. Women’s dedication to her work and workplace is sometimes unnoticed and undervalued. As a result, in many corporate sections, we do not really see high ranked female workers.
Moreover, it is conventionally thought that women are the responsibility of their male counterparts. As a result, while negotiating the salary, women are offered less than men for the same job position simply because it sounds like a luxury for a woman to work when her husband contributes the lion’s share of his income to the family. A lot of working women go through massive psychological turmoil when people bestow various stigmas upon her. The society cannot accept the fact that a woman also needs money and a room of her own to accomplish her goals.
In addition, men are considered to be the primary breadwinners of the family. He has to bear the responsibilities of his wife, children and elderly parents. This patriarchal society understands that a man needs to earn more so that he can contribute more. On the other hand, a married woman, when she wants to financially contribute to her parents, is bullied by her neighbourhood. They say, it is a son’s duty. Therefore, working men can ask for salary raise, and handsome amount of bonus at their workplaces.
Another big problem is that our job industry offers gender defined positions to men and women. Men are thought to be naturally better in decision making, managerial abilities, time management, and handling pressure than women. So, the companies tend to recruit men to the higher and high paid positions. Unfortunately, women live with many stigmas for which the job industry designs low impact, more flexible and low paid jobs for the women. Women’s biological structure is one of the causations.
Biologically women menstruate every month for 5 days on an average. Due to the massive turmoil in the hormonal level, sometimes they remain unwell both physically and emotionally. It is thought that their temporal emotional vulnerability makes them unfit for certain job positions. Instead of understanding journey, job industries have only separated them and kept them aside by curbing their self-confidence. With the biology, here comes another realistic reason which is motherhood. Working mothers are always anxious and stressed to maintain a work-life balance. Sometimes, they do not come earlier than the reporting time and do not even overstay after office. There is a lack of belongingness co-workers feel with a working mother. The authority thinks that women need more flexibility than men. So, if they are paid less, they will accept it.
Therefore, these stereotypical practices should be stopped and more ungendered approaches should be taken to abolish this gender pay gap. Women, in many places in our country, hold the superior power positions. They are mothers, daughters, sisters and most importantly they are efficient professionals. It is a matter of a great pride that our honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is one of the most empowered women in the country who has taught us to keep on nourishing and cherishing our dreams.
Therefore, instead of punishing the anxious mothers by cutting their salaries, help them to focus on their works by providing a childcare service at office. Instead of trimming out the talent and dreams of a promising young lady, help her to catch her dream and teach her the lessons of self-defence. Our PM has already brought so many positive changes to the country to ensure women’s education and empowerment. As a result, the gender pay gap is the lowest in the world. Hopefully, we will be able to merge the number and build equal societies in which men and women are not only half in numbers but also equal in opportunities and payments.
The writer is a Lecturer, Department of English Language and Literature, Premier University Chittagong