14 January 2016
Policies that promote gender equality aim to establish that men and women share the equal rights and obligations that are characteristic of a fair and forward-looking society.
Despite progress , women’s economic inequality remains a long-standing matter.
It is experienced by many who are in jobs that are low paid, part-time, with little or no prospect of career advancements and confined to a relatively small spread of jobs. (“gender segregation”)
There is also the Motherhood Penalty in which a woman’s career can be set back on becoming a parent, as well as a lack of women in top posts, and women’s caring roles.
All of these factors and others combine to create the Gender Pay gap.
It exists despite the fact that the Equal Pay Act was established in 1975.
Using the most recent data from the Office of National Statistics, the Gender Pay Gap for the local council areas in North East Scotland is :
Aberdeen – Women earn 94 per cent of men’s wages
Aberdeenshire – Women earn 92 per cent of men’s wages
Angus – Women earn 87 cent of men’s wages
Dundee – Women earn 88 per cent of men’s wages
At UK level, Equal Pay Day is an annual event as part of the campaign to close the gender gap.
It marks the event by taking the calendar to illustrate the Gender Pay Gap.
This year it was 9th. November, and in terms of the Gender Pay Gap, a woman working full-time would work for nothing from then till January, while the man continued to be paid.
As well as being underpaid, women face being under-represented.
This also has an economic outcome.
Academic research has highlighted the under-representation of women in academia, business, public service and public office, highlighting the estimated benefit to Scotland’s national income from a doubling of women’s high-level skill contribution to the economy -£170 million a year.
The Women 50 : 50 campaign
The aim of the Women 50 : 50 campaign is to have equal representation of women in public life such as Parliament, local councils and on public boards.
Women make up 52 per cent of the Scottish population, but they account for around just one third of members of public boards and MSPs, and a quarter of councillors.
Experience from elsewhere tells us that this is a policy whose time has come.
Labour's sister party in Sweden , the Social Democrats, are the main party in a 50 : 50 government , and the new Canadian government has a gender-balanced Cabinet.
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