International Women's Day Report Shows Wage Gap Worldwide

Friday, July 23 2010

Women make up 60% of the world's working poor, earning less than $1 a day, according to a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), released to mark International Women's Day.

And whatever jobs women do, they earn, on average, 10% less than men.

While more women are working, they still face discrimination over salaries, job security and promotion.

"Despite some progress, far too many women are still stuck in the lowest-paying jobs, often in the informal economy with insufficient legal protection, little or no social protection, and a high degree of insecurity", said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia.

In 2006, the ILO estimated that 1.2 billion of the 2.9 billion workers in the world were women.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the number of women at work grew substantially.

Hopes grew too that more women in the workforce would bring greater equality - and on paper, it has, says the BBC's Imogen Foulkes in Geneva.

Many countries have introduced laws stipulating equal pay for equal work.

But women are far more likely than men to be found in low-paid jobs.

And even in traditionally female professions such as teaching and nursing, the ILO says, equal pay is lacking.

The ILO is especially concerned about what it calls "unpaid contributing family workers" - women working within a family enterprise such as a shop or a farm for no wage.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the report reveals, four out of 10 working women fall into this category, and in South Asia, six out of 10.

More women can read and write than 10 years ago - but, the ILO warns, their improved education is not reflected in the opportunities offered to women for promotion and career development.

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