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Fighting for gender equality in an increasingly unequal world

17 January, 2024According to new research published by Oxfam, the world’s five richest men have seen their fortunes more than double since 2020, while over the same period five billion people have become poorer. 

Men own about US$105 trillion more wealth than women, globally, which represents a difference in wealth tantamount to more than four times the size of the entire U.S. economy. Oxfam stated that in 2019 women earned just 51 cents for every US$1 in labour income earned by men. 

The report also found that globally, only one in three businesses are owned by women and that out of 1,600 of the largest companies in the world, fewer than a quarter have a public commitment to gender equality.

Oxfam says: “Low wages mean that many workers grind long hours and are imprisoned in poverty, while tireless gender wage gaps and heavy unpaid care loads reflect a global economy that rests on the systematic exploitation of women.”

All workers should enjoy equal rights, yet female and young workers remain subject to discrimination resulting in many being denied their fundamental rights. IndustriALL fights their discrimination at work by promoting their fairer and stronger participation in trade unions. Women must have equal pay, equal opportunities, and safe working environments. Gender equality ensures women have their share of well-paying jobs and receive equal pay for work of equal value. 

Last year, IndustriALL launched a Pay Equity Toolkit, developed to support trade unions in bargaining for pay equity. The Toolkit stipulates five steps that trade unions can take to close the gender pay gap. 

These steps include: 

  • raising awareness about inequalities
  • addressing the structural causes
  • the need for pay transparency
  • addressing the issue of low paid workers in the informal economy
  • finding tools and structures to bring the gender pay gap into core trade union      bargaining 

IndustriALL assistant general secretary, Christina Olivier, says:

“The findings in Oxfam’s report are shocking and underscores the need to break the cycle of gender inequality, which is fuelled by unequal power relations between men and women, and rooted in patriarchy, harmful social and cultural norms, and discrimination. We must address these root causes, through risk management, and stop the abuse of power and inequality.”