"All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others." - George Orwell Novel: Animal Farm- A fairy story
Worldwide, humanity is divided into many classes. These classes may be based on many parameters, and gender is definitely one of them. Even if we appear equal in our needs and wants, we know we are not, in many ways. Women, especially women of color, are considered second-class citizens who should constantly attempt to dispel the myths around their capabilities and fight an uphill battle to respectfully coexist with their white male counterparts. The discrimination here is not always in the face, but you know it exists when women have to constantly contribute more, both at home and office and still somehow are left with earnings less than men.
The pay gap does not exist just between the genders but also for various ethnic groups and non-binary folks, which gets worse in developing countries. Every year, nationally and internationally, the "Equal Pay Day" is marked by professionals and activists across the globe to periodically assess the existing pay gap and remind ourselves that there is still a long way to go. In 2021, this day was observed on March 2021 (indicating how many more days the average American woman had to work to receive the same pay as her male counterparts did, just by working in the previous year). At present, universally, an average woman earns 23% less than her male counterpart for equal work.
Addressing this issue is not easy for many privileged folks and for some (who have been conditioned to believe that this is the right way to go about it). Bringing effective solutions to the desk is even tougher! But there are some universally agreed upon ways that can help in narrowing this pay gap:
Break the glass ceiling: Findings by the OECD Economic department concludes that 60% of the gender pay gap exists due to barriers that block career advancements for women. They are made to suffer the motherhood penalty and often disproportionately bear the load of parenting and other non-paid work. Motherhood and parenting-related decisions often cause a gap in her employment history, and employers use this as an excuse not to offer higher-paying positions in the future. It's time we break this glass ceiling for how far a woman can go in her career and start providing the rightfully deserved flexibility for motherhood and parenting.
Have an equal share in family responsibilities: As simple as this may sound, a sad majority of the world hasn't been able to embrace the simple concept of equity. Even when both partners work (and are equal contributors to family finances), mothers are expected to instinctively offer more time and energy to fulfill parental and family obligations.
Kill the subconscious bias: In many cases, the bias against a woman's ability to perform complex roles begins right where they are expected to learn lessons of equality- the school. Teachers often dissuade girls or never fully support their interests to pursue a career in STEM-related fields. Later in life, a woman finds herself increasingly drifting away from empowering roles.
Stop the cultural bias: Although the law mandates equal pay for equal work, several organizations continue to hold the cultural bias and even justify their pay gap as being less than significant or as being compensated by the company's other non-monetary benefits such as maternity leave and/or childcare support.
Bringing a grassroots level change: Even if we may feel shy and refrain from sharing information on how much we earn, it's important that we do so to create an atmosphere of transparency for our colleagues and shine a light on any policy disparity based on one's gender and/or personal identity.
Lastly, it is important to accept that this cultural shift towards universal equality is slow, and many of us women may not live long enough to see our efforts come to fruition; a world where we are paid on par with men, but that only highlights the fact that more of our efforts will be needed to bring equity for all our young girls and women starting out today.