Women are still on average, getting less pay than men across the world, according to the UN. Women in most countries earn between 60-75% of men’s’ wages; this is referred to as the gender pay gap. This term is a mild phrase for a very crucial issue. This topic brings about absolute rage for some, while others are entirely shocked. How do we make the workspace more equal and pay women what they are worth?
Why Gender Pay Gap?
Njoki Ngumi is a medical doctor and a creative leader and writer from Kenya. She is head of learning development at HEVA Fund that invests in the creative economy. She also heads the same title at the NEST Collective. This is a group of creators who work in fashion and art in Nairobi.
Dr. Ngumu’s analysis of the gender pay gap in Kenya is primarily due to patriarchy. There is also the broader conversation of decision making, therefore with the shift of such factors, then there will be shifts in pay gaps. The more we find women having a platform to make decisions while men are still in the present. This is not just a conversation of women being in seats of power but also having women who are not ashamed of having a feminist agenda. So that more women can benefit from these changes.
It also to do with the type of occupation most women are in, tend to be low paid. Most women take up part-time roles mainly because of balancing work and her gender roles as a woman. Women are also mostly employed in underpaid jobs. Most executive positions are nominated positions that are mostly given to men because they see women as a threat to bringing the feminist agenda. At the same time, most women work in the informal sector, while others operate small scale businesses. In such settings, government directives issued to reduce this gap becomes impossible to implement.
How to Tackle the Gender Pay Gap
During a kindergarten tea break, a parent noticed that boys were building robots while girls were arranging spoons on a tray. The parent questioned this, and the teacher responded, that’s what girls like. This scenario automatically highlights gender stereotypes that are deep-rotted in all sectors of society. From the very beginning, the role that girls and boys are socialized to be are so fundamentally different, and this is where we need to begin.
The cultural conversation also comes up when it comes to the 2/3 gender rule. Most people were calling women leaders flower girls as they mock about the ornamental value they have. It, therefore, brings the broader conversation of women’s engagement during meetings in our political arena. The society needs to get to a point where it normalizes seeing women in leadership positions and actively engaging in their spaces. Governments should also work on their taxation policies, especially for single mothers, such as reduced taxation for ten years for these groups of women.
Governments should also enforce paternity leave for men. Whereby they do not see fatherhood as babysitting, but as a fatherly duty, they need to perform. Paternity leave is existent in Kenya, where fathers are given ten days off to help during that time. However, this does not apply to informal jobs or entrepreneur sectors.
The definition of masculinity needs to be defined to include nurturing, care, and emotional. Facilities such as public toilets should be designed to accommodate all genders. Also, encourage men to partake in their fatherly roles. A good example is having a children’s changing area in the men’s bathrooms where men can attend to their babies when needed too. This conversation goes on and on, and it’s important to note that countries have long strides to take before they can achieve gender equality in work areas. However, we need to work together and ensure all groups experience the gains of the movement.