More women work in health and care, but earn 24% less than men: UN report |

The Gender Pay Gap in the Health and Care Sector: A Global Analysis in Time COVID-19was published by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

It documents a raw gender pay gap of about 20 percentage points, which is jumped to 24 percentage points when factors such as age, education and working hours are taken into account.

Discrimination as a factor

While much of this gap is unexplained, agencies have said it may be due to discrimination against womenaccounting for almost 70 percent of health and care workers worldwide.

The report also showed that wages in health and nursing tend to be lower overall compared to other sectors, consistent with the finding that wages are often lower in areas dominated by women.

Moreover, even with the pandemic and the critical role that health and care workers have played during the crisis, only marginal improvement in pay equity in the period from 2019 to 2020.

“The health and care sector as a whole is facing low wages, persistently large gender pay gaps and very difficult working conditions. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought this situation to light and also demonstrated how vital the sector and its workers are to supporting families, societies and economies,” said Manuela Tomei, Director of the ILO’s Working Conditions and Equality Department.

Working mothers fined

The report also found large differences in the gender pay gap across countries, indicating that the gap is not inevitable and that more can be done to close the gap.

Within the countries the gender pay gap tends to be larger in higher-paying categories where men predominate.while women are overrepresented in lower paid categories.

Mothers who work in the health and care sector also appear to face additional penalties. The gender pay gap widens significantly during a woman’s reproductive age and persists throughout the rest of her working life.

According to the report, a more equitable distribution of family responsibilities between men and women may lead to women choosing jobs differently.

The analysis also looks at the factors behind the gender pay gap in the health and care sector.

© UNICEF/Ismail Taksta

A health worker prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at a hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Dialogue and Action

Differences in age, education and working hours, as well as differences in the participation of men and women in the public or private sectors solve only part of the problem.

The report says that the reasons why women earn less than men with a similar job market profile remain largely unexplained labor market factors.

Ms Tomei expressed her hope that the report will serve as an impetus for dialogue and political action, as without a stronger health and care sector, there will be no inclusive, sustainable and sustainable post-pandemic recovery.

We cannot have better health and care services without better and fairer working conditions, including fairer wages for health and care workers, most of whom are women,” she said.

Jim Campbell, Director of Health Human Resources at WHO, added that the report cites success stories in several countries, including wage increases and political commitment to fair pay, that point the way forward.

“Women make up the majority of health and care workers, but in too many countries systemic biases entail detrimental penalties on their wages,” he said.

“The evidence and analysis in this groundbreaking report should inform governments, employers and workers of the need to take effective action.”

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