UN Women Policy Briefs

The UN Women policy brief series synthesizes research findings, analysis and policy recommendations on key policy areas around gender equality and women’s rights in an accessible format. The series aims to bridge the research and policy divide by identifying issues that require urgent policy attention and propose a set of suitable measures to address them. The series is a joint effort of UN Women’s Policy Division, coordinated by the Research and Data Section. To ensure the quality and relevance of the content, each brief undergoes a rigorous internal and external peer review process. These concise and relevant policy-oriented documents are useful resources for gender equality advocates, civil society and other policy actors working to achieve gender equality and women’s rights.

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Tackling the Gender Pay Gap

From Individual Choices to Institutional Change

Sixty-five years after the International Labour Organization Convention No. 100 on equal remuneration, the gender pay gap remains pervasive across all regions and most sectors, and policy debate continues on how to close it. Policy attention has focused on women’s own behaviour and choices, but women have been investing more in their education and participating more continuously in employment without reaping the expected benefits. It is time to focus instead on changing the environment in which women are making choices. This brief focuses on policies needed to change employment arrangements. This would involve: raising and extending minimum wage floors to reduce the penalties that come from being at the bottom of the wage hierarchy; improving the valuation of women’s work through strengthening legal and collective regulation; extending gender pay audits and action plans; and improving women’s employment opportunities by developing progression opportunities in female-dominated jobs and sectors, and enabling mothers to remain in, or return to, employment. Policies to close the gender pay gap need to be developed in tandem with policies to reduce inequality overall, promote social justice and extend state support for working parents.

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