Why Gender Balance Can’t Wait


Thousands of women protested on Monday in Iceland (300k population) by stopping work at 14:28 hours and marching against gender pay-gap. Why 14:28? Because that’s when they roughly start working for free (based on 14% pay gap).

If women in the United States had staged the same protest, for example, they would have left work at 2:12 PM. In South Korea, it would have been 12:36 PM. In Pakistan, 10:50 AM

Cartoons such as this highlight the glaring problem of women pay inequality


Iceland women protest in style

6Thousands of women protested on Monday in Iceland (300k population) by stopping work at 14:28 hours and marching against gender pay-gap. Why 14:28? Because that’s when they roughly start working for free (based on 14% pay gap).

Those assembled at Austurvollur shouted Ut, or “Out,” to discrimination against women. They were essentially saying: If I were a man, I might have earned my paycheck by now, so I’m taking the rest of the afternoon off and demanding change.

It’s an excellent way to protest the pay gap, and it’s getting media attention all over the world.

They did it on the same day, the 24th October, which nine out of ten Icelandic women went on strike in the year 1975 to protest gender inequalities, a day they called Women’s Day Off.

Banks, factories and some shops had to close, as did schools and nurseries—leaving many fathers with no choice but to take their children to work. There were reports of men arming themselves with sweets and colouring pencils to entertain the crowds of overexcited children in their workplaces. Sausages—easy to cook and popular with children—were in such demand the shops sold out.

It was a baptism of fire for some fathers, which may explain the other name the day has been given—the Long Friday.

Global trends through the World Economic Forum Study

5A report published by the World Economic Forum on 25th October stated that it would take at another 170 years to bridge the gender gap in terms of pay and workforce. In 2015, report data had suggested that the economic gap could be closed within 118 years, or 2133.

The rate of bridging the economic gap between men and women has slowed dramatically with the gap – which stands at 59 percent for data points which have been collected from 144 countries.

  • Smaller European countries, particularly Nordic nations, continue to occupy the top four positions in terms of Gender equality.
  • Interestingly, Rawanda (rank five), the only African country in the top 10, managed to close 80 percent of its gender gap, overtaking Ireland (rank six).
  • Phillipines, the only Asian country in the list was ranked seven
  • Nicaragua remained the best performer in Latin America and the Carribean at ten, just behind New Zealand at nine.

India ranked at 87th place globally in terms of gender equality despite a jump of 21 places from last year largely due to progress on the education front.

The recent USA presidential elections

Even in the USA, doing “as good a job” has never guaranteed women equal pay. Ever.

In the year 2009, one thought it was a landmark achievement when the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was passed.

But still, on average, women today still earn just 80 cents on the dollar compared to men.

If women earned as much as men, the United States would produce an additional $482 billion annually,

The controversial candidate, rump was asked earlier this year why his campaign doesn’t pay women as much as men, he said salaries were based on “talent.”

He opposes equal pay legislation because, he says, “the marketplace” will take care of it.

“You’re gonna make the same if you do as good a job,” Trump said.

What critics have pointed out are statements made by Trump like “putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing.”

Pay Equality Day


In April this year, sending a message out to the world about bridging the gender pay gap, social networking site Facebook and technology giant Microsoft disclosed that they pay male and female employees equally.

The disclosure – that came on the “Equal Pay Day” – was announced after both the companies were pressed by Arjuna Capital, a Boston-based investment firm. Arjuna Capital had filed shareholder proposals at each of the companies, asking these to close the gender wage.

Can we do something about it?

The report has named a number of reasons including disparities in salaries, a stagnant labor-force participation (only 54 % of women join the workforce, as compared to 81 % of men), and low number of women in senior positions even though “95 countries around the world now have as many — if not more — women educated at university level”.

Data by US technology firm Hired shows that the average woman on its platform sets her expected salary at $14,000 less per year than the average man on its platform. So one would need to arm women with information about this phenomenon to empower them to ask for their market worth.

Teams with gender-balanced management achieve operational, organizational, and performance benefits that include employee engagement, enhanced brand image, greater client and consumer satisfaction, increased organic growth, and an increase in generating profit and cash.Hence, really makes sense for companies to investigate their compensation policies to ensure that they don’t perpetuate patterns of inequality.

Summing Up


Talent and technology together will determine how the Fourth Industrial Revolution can be harnessed to deliver sustainable economic growth and innumerable benefits to society. Yet if half of the world’s talent is not integrated—as both beneficiary and shaper—into the transformations underway, we will compromise innovation and risk a rise in inequality. This urgency is at the core of a fresh call to action to accelerate progress towards gender equality, adding to the well-established economic case for Gender Equality

As Hillary says: When you short-change women, you short-change families and you short-change America.

[[1] http://www3.weforum.org/docs/GGGR16/WEF_Global_Gender_Gap_Report_2016.pdf