The Inaugural International Equal Pay Day

Today is the inaugural International Equal Pay Day, recognized by the United Nations to bring attention to the gender wage discrimination women experience worldwide. Globally, the pay gap is estimated to be at twenty-three cents. This compares similarly to the average pay gap in the U.S., which has been at least twenty cents for several years.  

Pay equity and economic security are critical for women and communities to thrive. The U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals address inequities and focus on improving women and girls’ access to school, employment, and leadership opportunities. While progress has been made, the U.N. recognizes that COVID-19 has exacerbated existing inequity, including undermining women’s already fragile financial stability.  

Around the globe, women are playing an outsized role in responding to the virus, including as frontline workers and at-home caregivers. Nearly sixty percent of women worldwide still work in the informal economy, meaning jobs that lack employment protections and benefits such as domestic work, street vending, and seasonal agriculture, making them vulnerable to exploitation and poverty.

Equal Pay Days mark just how far into the current year a woman must work to earn the same amount paid to a man the previous year, and women of color continue to experience the most severe pay disparities in the United States. In August, we acknowledged Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, and in October we will mark the Equal Pay Days for Native Women and Latinas. Latinas make, on average, only fifty-four cents to each dollar paid to a white man, which means she needs to work approximately ten extra months into 2020 to earn what her while male counterpart made in 2019.  

Amidst a global pandemic which is disproportionately impacting women and communities of color, these pay disparities are especially harmful. This International Equal Pay Day, we encourage you to visit the Equal Pay International Coalition’s site to explore resources on how to achieve women’s equal pay in your community and internationally.