Last Thursday was labelled Equal Pay Day by equality campaigners, as it effectively represents the last day of the year that women will be earning in relation to men. The gender pay gap currently sits at around 13.9%, meaning that women will effectively be working for nothing from Thursday until 2017.
Despite the fact that it has been more than four decades since the Equal Pay Act, it is clear that women are still facing significant barriers in terms of pay and employment. In a report released earlier this year by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, it was revealed that women are facing a “motherhood penalty,” where the gender pay gap widens significantly for women after the birth of their first child. Women are far more likely than men to work in low-paid and undervalued sectors of the economy such as care, and 63% of people not receiving the living wage are women.
This situation is unacceptable. RISE Women calls on the government to work with campaigners, employers and trade unions to tackle the problem of gender wage segregation and widen access for women into more senior roles in the workplace. It is time that the work traditionally done by women is given equal value. This must be done by the introduction and enforcement of a real Living Wage, which will make a positive impact upon women working in the lowest paid sectors. We also reiterate our call for unpaid carers, the vast majority of whom are women, to be paid a Living Wage for the invaluable work they do in looking after the most vulnerable people in our society whilst saving the economy billions of pounds annually. We further demand that the government provide affordable, high quality, universally available childcare that would be transformative to the lives of women with children.