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The Wage Gap Syndrome: Equity Not Equality Among Genders in Ghana

The global economy is hit significantly due to the inequality in wages among males and females in the labor force. Due to the inequality in wages among genders, economies across the globe are estimated to loss about $160 trillion in GDP. According to the World Economic Forum, in 2019 only, wage inequality in countries such as France, where wage inequality is considered to be the smallest and Germany where wage inequality is considered to be the largest, is 78 cents per euro and 88 cents per euro in a female to male ratio respectively.  To addressing this issue, the World Economic Forum forecasts that, it will take the global economy about 202 years to bridge the gap of inequality in wages.

Gender Wage Inequality is defined as a ratio of average earnings of all full-time, year-round working females as compared to males in the labor market. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), in lower-middle income countries such as Ghana, women’s average earning all year is estimated to be nearly 16% less than that of men’s average earnings all year round. Based on this assertion, it is evident that the average woman working all year-round losses a significant amount of money as compared to men whiles doing the same type of job.

I believe the concept of equity must be the surest strategy in addressing the wage gap syndrome Since equity leads to equality, by inculcating the needs of women while addressing the wage gap in the country will further ensure that equality in wages in achieved and this will aid in bridging the gap in wages among genders in the country. Per the 2010 population and housing census report, the ratio of males to females in Ghana is 95.2/100. Impliedly, a chunk of the population are females as opposed to males in Ghana hence if the wage gap syndrome is addressed, it will go a long way in contributing significantly to the overall gross domestic product (GDP) of the country and help shrink the loss in GDP due to inequality in wages across the world.

In Ghana, a major factor of gender wage inequality is the number of hours that men and women spend on a job. Majority of women in Ghana often opt to take up part-time employment as opposed to a full-time employment. With this arrangement, women are able to balance work and family responsibilities (which is not tied to any commensurate income) thus accounting for the indifference in wages among genders.

Also, it is difficult to identify women within the labor force with high work experience as compared their male counterpart men due to the fact that there exist limited opportunities for women in various sectors of the economy. Efforts over the years have been initiated by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection under the Government of Ghana seeking to address the inequality in the wage gap syndrome but have proven futile.

Over the years, educating the girl child has been one of the endeavoring elements adopted in most developing countries such as Ghana in other to curtail the wage gap syndrome among genders. Increasing the rate of girl child participation in education will increase women’s involvement in the formal labor sector which will also further enhance economic growth in the country. It is however worth knowing that research disproves that education alone is sufficient to dismantle this segmentation of inequality in wages among genders.

Evidently, the aforementioned factors are just but a few pointers that trigger the sort of inequality in wages we witness in Ghana. Other similar factors include Gender bias, where jobs undertaken by women are considered to be inferior as against that of men, career breaks, the time women take out of the work force, under-representation of women at the leadership level and the level of discrimination against women in the labor force.

Irrespective of the fact that globally there have been projected estimates pertaining to how such issues are expected to thrive into the foreseeable future, I believe issues such as these must be addressed structurally in developing countries. Policies and its effective implementation should be holistic in addressing the long established cultural reasons that leads to the gap in wages among genders and further seek to promote gender neutral choices of individuals at all times in the labor market. This will agree with Price Waterhouse Cooper’s (PWC) findings that gains in gross domestic product (GDP) to the global economy will exceed $6 trillion and further cause women’s earnings to increase by $2 trillion.

 


David Sem
Department of Economics
University of Ghana

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