Gender pay gap: Iceland may just be the beginning

28 October 2016 | by Shruti Kohli | NEW DELHI

In the feminist circles, it has been the most totemic issue for long enough. Outside, gender pay gap has only managed to make it as a spicy drawing room conversation concluding with women shutting up and men pepping up. However, the arguments were never so loud as to upset the stillness.




So when thousands of Icelandic women left work 14 per cent early on Monday to protest against the 14 per cent pay gap, it was an aggressive diversion from the calm sophisticated conventional styles registered to address the issue so far. The protest went viral, of course, and that’s not just for its volume but also for the fact that its epicenter should be a country which is officially accepted as the world’s leader in gender equity.



Thousands of Iceland’s women walked out of work places to protest gender pay gap


Back in India, where fathers are still not known to take paternity leave and where gender equity in the daily process is a dream that everyone wakes up to, and forgets, every morning, the gender gap is bigger at 24.81% (as registered in 2013). But women striking work here to demand pay hikes is an idea farfetched, and outrageous.


A look at the latest C-level salaries explains. The figures for 2015-16 show that the highest paid private sector CEOs in India were all men. L&T’s A M Naik drew the fattest packet at Rs 66.14 crore. Next stood Vishal Sikka of Infosys at Rs 48.73 crore followed by Lupin’s Desh Bandhu Gupta at Rs 44.8 crore. The epitome of successful women in India, Axis Bank’s Shikha Sharma and ICICI Bank’s Chanda Kochar, got paid Rs 5.5crore and Rs 6.6crore respectively.


An analysis of gender pay gap done by the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad showed a 54% gender pay gap from year 2006 to 2011. That’s big! But this analysis also showed that the gap had narrowed from 70% in 2008 to 40% in 2011. And in 2013 it stood at 24.81%. This sounds good. But from Rs 5.5crore to Rs 66.14crore, it’s still a tough trek.


In a scenario where at 54% the economic gap globally has gone back to what it looked like in 2008, India’s progress from 70% to 24.81% in seven years may look promising. But it’s quite a gap eligible for an Icelandic style protest.


And the urgency of such protests is established by the World Economic Forum’s prediction in its Global Gender Gap index released on Tuesday. The report says that at the current rate, given that the gap widened last year, women and men will not be equal economically for another 170 years.


Either we stand up and shout or we sit down and wait…for a century and a half. That’s not a very tough choice, is it?



photo: Google Images



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