For Release Upon Receipt - March 8, 2017
The Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IGDS) of The University of the West Indies, St Augustine, (The UWI) calls upon the Government, employers and other relevant interest groups to treat with equal work for equal pay and equal pay for work of equal value as a policy priority.
Economic equality for women is a human right. Globally, regionally and nationally men earn more than women. At current global economic growth rates, the gap in earnings between men and women, will close in 2186. According to a 2016 Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Gender Country Assessment Synthesis Report, Caribbean women are more likely than men to be unemployed and defined as “economically inactive” across the 10 CDB-member countries. Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) figures indicate that, in Latin America and the Caribbean, the largest wage gap exists in populations with highest levels of education (13years of education or more). In this category, women can earn up to 25.6% less than their male peers. Nationally, our experience reflects regional and global forms of inequality.
As we commemorate International Women’s Day 2017, and the global rallying call, draws our attention to the persistent and ever emerging economic vulnerability experienced by women in spite of growing education participation levels and longer periods of schooling among girls and women. Good public policy must be invested in expanding life choices for all. Good public policy must pay particular attention to the vulnerable, while actively seeking to minimize and alleviate unfortunate economic, political and social fall out from policy decisions. The IGDS calls for public policy that must -
• Take on board the complex interactions of social, political and economic variables that see women, on average, clustering in lower-paying sectors and experiencing higher levels of unemployment.
• Seek to make sense of the nuanced and evolving ways in which economic vulnerabilities drive social, relational and household challenges, such as increased levels of Gender Based Violence, Intimate Partner Violence and the multiple forms of violence and abuse we grapple with nationally
• Situate itself in evidence-based research provided by work such as the 2014 Survey of Living Conditions and the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS)
• Recognize that traditional notions of welfare, trickle-down planning and make-work approaches to social sector development and poverty alleviation will not work in 2017. Economic growth initiatives must be augmented by research driven, strategic poverty alleviation and income redistributive measures that secure quality of life improvements that are critical to people-centred development.
• Understand that multiple stakeholder engagement, collaboration and partnership are hallmarks of effective development strategies.
In addition, in terms of labour force participation, women’s economic advancement, and the economic empowerment of women remains a development challenge. Women in Trinidad & Tobago have historically exhibited lower levels of workforce participation, and have featured in greater numbers in unemployment statistics. International Labour Organization (ILO) statistics for Trinidad & Tobago, placed the 2015 Labour Force Participation Rate at 50% for women and 71% for men. Over the period 2008 to 2010 the unemployment rate for women was consistently higher than the figure for men. In 2008, male unemployment stood at 3.5%, female 6.2%, in 2009 male 4.6% with female 6.3%, in 2010, male 5.2% and female 7.0%. Add to these numbers the fact that, periods of economic downturn produce rising unemployment and increased public policy focus on market efficiency. Periods of economic austerity tend to result in a public policy thrust towards market efficiency. Increased market efficiency often means shifting costs from the paid economy to the unpaid economy. Therefore, the shift most often adds to the burden of women’s work within the household.
We at the Institute for Gender and Development Studies, consistent with our mission to advance social justice and promote gender-responsive human relations and development in the wider society, remain committed to the ideals of decent work, equal pay and fair valuing of work, human security and the elimination of gender-based violence.
As the IGDS unite with our civil society, non-governmental, governmental and regional partners in the Life in Leggings march on Saturday March 11th 2017, we advocate for equal work for equal pay and equal pay for work of equal value.
About The UWI
Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. Website: www.uwi.edu
(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)