Wednesday, 8 March 2017

International Woman's Day 2017

Today is International Woman’s Day which is being celebrated by myself and many other people all over the world. I am encouraged to see the vast support this has had however we should not only celebrate the progress that has been made so far but equally take note of the gaps in gender equality that still remain. The theme for International Women’s Day 2017 is #BeBoldForChange – encouraging people to step up and take ground breaking action to help drive gender equality.

Unfortunately, the gender wage gap is currently still around 15%, meaning women only earn 85% of what men do. According to the World Economic Forum, this wage gap won’t close until 2186. This shocking prediction highlights the need for immediate and necessary action.

I am pleased that from the 6th April 2017, employers in the UK with more than 250 staff will be required by law to publish the following four types of figures annually on their own website and on a government website:

·       Gender pay gap

·       Gender bonus gap

·       Proportion of men and women receiving bonuses

·       Proportion of men and women in each quartile of the organisation’s pay structure.

I hope that this change will bring gender equality issues to the forefront of employers minds and encourage them to put an end to inequality in their workplaces. I also believe this law should be extended to cover all businesses regardless of size given that unequal pay and sex discrimination are not limited to businesses with a larger workforce.

Despite this change being a step in the right direction, the UK Government must also take into account that inequality affects people of all genders and backgrounds, limitations of the reporting system should be considered as it is vital we learn more about the full scale of this issue.

It is also necessary to offer more protection to those who take career breaks to start a family or care for children. According to a survey by the National Childbirth Trust, one in three women find it difficult or very difficult to return to work after maternity leave. Despite the strengthening of legislation surrounding this issue, I further encourage the UK Government to use its investigatory powers to determine why so many women continue to share these unfortunate experiences on such a large scale.

Gender equality must be made a priority and I hope to see robust changes which significantly reduce the World Economic Forum’s daunting prediction. I fully support the #BeBoldForChange campaign for International Women’s Day 2017 and will continue to support any future campaigns that promote gender equality.