WOMEN have made significant progress in the still male dominated public and private sector yet gender equality and pay parity at work places has remained a daunting and discriminatory spectre across the globe, veteran politician Vernon Mwaanga has observed.
Dr Mwaanga said the equal pay for equal work campaign was borne out of the realisation that women were not being treated equally and fairly at work places and that he was saddened that the campaign had not achieved the balance in gender equality and pay parity in Zambia, Africa and the world as a whole.
Dr Mwaanga said in a statement to the Daily Nation that the progress in achieving gender equality and pay parity had not been satisfactory. He said that it was sad that the reports by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Grant Thornton Business Report of 2015 still showed that the proportion of and representation of women on boards of companies across the globe had hardly changed over the past decade.
Dr Mwaanga said the number of women in senior government jobs including ministers had hardly increased in the past few years adding that in some instances, the percentages and numbers of women in key decision-making positions had declined.
He however said it was heartening that Rwanda was leading the world in terms of appointments of women in senior government positions and the corporate world. He explained that it was an “uncomfortable truth that” women salaries across the globe were ranging between four percent and 35 percent lower than those of men and expressed worry that the gap seemed to be widening in absolute terms.
Dr Mwaanga said research had shown that while it was easier to access information in the private sector and at senior levels in government such as chief executive officers, government ministers, permanent secretaries, members of Parliament, public officers and judges, it was much harder to get information from city municipal and district councils.
“There is need for women and women’s organisations not to drop their guard or let societal standards determine how much women should earn or the types of positions they can hold in companies or governments. It is said that many women believe it is embarrassing to discuss their salaries or conditions of service. The issue of gender equality and pay parity at work places continues to be worrisome not only in Zambia but Africa and the world as a whole. The failure by governments and companies to root out gender inequality has led to a plethora of legislative framework, in countries such as Rwanda, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Turkey and South Africa,” Dr Mwaanga said.
Dr Mwaanga advised that governments and companies should pay particular attention to gender discrimination against women in workplace and discouraged lip-service and platform sloganeering as well as lofty public pronouncements. He stated that the report by Grant Thornton suggested that women in Africa were more likely to be blocked from reaching business leadership by gender bias than anywhere else in the world.
Dr Mwaanga stated that many African countries were struggling to meet the SADC and African Union (AU) treaties and declarations for gender equality in parliaments, cabinets and boardrooms of companies.
He said in Zambia, the current numbers of women in Parliament has been facing the wrog direction and called on political parties to change what he termed the shameful state of affairs.
Dr Mwaanga said the selection of candidates by political parties in Zambia was always weighed against women advising that there must be deliberate policies to empower women, and not to use them as dancers for leaders at airports and public functions.