Pay Packet Disparity


Counting onwards from the 1960s, the world has seen one of the most passionate and influential movements in its history. Feminism has revolutionised and redefined what being a ‘woman’ is all about. Feminists are the people who realised that women were equal to men, and decided to raise their voices and stand up and take action for women all over the globe.

They dreamt of a world where women would not face any lack of opportunity to establish themselves, merely because of their gender – a place where women would not be thought of as any less than men in terms of talents and abilities, an environment that would help women develop themselves and not stagnate their growth solely because they were the ‘weaker’ gender or because they suffer from the plight of a pre-defined gender role. That dream was realised a long time ago and has been one of the most vital building blocks of the modern world. Unfortunately for us, gender is still a big hindrance in the path of a woman’s success and the entire effort of feminists seems to have gone down the drain!

Statistics show that, in 2007, on the internationally comparable measure based on mean earnings, women’s average hourly pay (excluding overtime) was 17.2 per cent less than men’s pay. Moreover, women make only 75.5 cents for every dollar that men earn – according to a new release by the U.S Census Bureau. Men with children appear to get an earnings boost, whereas women lose earnings. Men with children earn about 2% more on average than men without children, whereas women with children earn about 2.5% less than women without children. These are some of the shameful facts which make us realize, that the world is still not ready to let women emerge as an economically independent gender.

Let us examine why such shocking differences still exist at a time when women are more loyal, dedicated and hard working in their education and job, than most of their male counterparts. No matter how successful the ‘feminist movement’ gets, a woman can never completely break free from the pre-defined gender roles that are often thrust down upon her. A woman is primarily the home maker, it is her role to give birth to the child and then raise it and take care of it, she is the one who must take care of the family and spend all her time in the house, with no or very little personal time. And the woman must accept this role without questioning it! It is often assumed that attending to the needs of the house is any woman’s first, and in most cases – the only priority. A woman trying to break free from this presumption is seen as committing a grave crime and this is one of the major reasons why an equally talented woman would earn much less than a man.

Women prefer jobs that are less demanding and let them spend most of their time with the family, while men do not have to worry about this. Women prefer not to travel much or far away from home, because of their job, which leaves women with very few job opportunities that would pay well. Many women work part-time to be able to spend more time with their family, while men don’t need to do work part-time and can easily get a good paying, full-time job. Moreover, women don’t attach much importance to the money factor of a job, and can easily settle for a less paying job.

It is unfair to the women to force them to a certain lifestyle and to make choices for them which they may never agree with completely. The need of the present time is to be economically sound and have a reliable source of income. Most women are deprived of that and rely on their partners for financial support, especially in our part of the world. If a woman wants a career, the choices in front of her are painfully minimal. A lack of work experience or unfriendly corporate cultures, discourage women from taking up jobs that can help them earn much. Furthermore, women tend to give lesser hours to work, and even lesser overtime. As a result, the gap between the pay that a man would get in comparison to a woman is becoming greater every year.

The society, I feel, is still not ready to accept women in any leadership role that places her outside the four walls of the house. No matter how subtle, women still face a certain prejudice in a work environment which does not let them utilize their abilities to the full extent. It is unfair to the women to make it apparent that they are thought of as less capable than their male counterparts, and to restrict their contributions in the corporate world by discouraging their monetary benefits. It is agreed, that there is no job nobler and more self satisfactory than raising good children and making a welcoming home, but those are not the only things on a woman’s list of priorities. The concerned authorities should strive to develop a society that encourages women to do jobs and makes sure that they are not treated unfairly on the basis of gender. It is high time we gave women their due share in terms of money and, hence, encourage them to pursue dreams they may never reveal.

Kulsoom Khawaja

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