Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

London — Other countries should follow Iceland, which has become the first country to make it illegal to pay men more than women, politicians and equal-rights campaigners said on Wednesday.

Iceland has been widely praised for introducing legislation on January 1 that imposes fines on any company or government agency with more than 25 staff without a government certificate demonstrating pay equality.

Iceland is the world’s most gender-equal country, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF), which analysed gaps in education, health, economic opportunity and political empowerment. Yemen is the least gender-equal, it found.

Here are some facts about the gender pay gap, according to the WEF:

• The average pay for women globally is $12,000, compared with $21,000 for men, the WEF said last year, forecasting that women will not earn as much as men for 217 years.

• Closing the pay gap could add an extra $250bn to the GDP of Britain; $1,750bn to that of the US; and $2.5-trillion to China’s GDP.

• The difference between hourly pay rates for men and women in Britain’s workforce fell to its lowest in 20 years in 2017, with male full-time employees earning 9.1% more than females, government data showed.

• The top ranking countries for economic participation and opportunity are Burundi, Barbados, Bahamas, Benin and Belarus, all with a gap of less than 20%.

• The five worst are Syria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Iran, with an economic gender gap of at least 65%.

• Globally, 22% of senior managers are women and they are more likely to work in industries with lower pay.

• Data show an under-use of educated women in the workforce, largely because of additional responsibilities at home, discrimination and under-representation in fields such as engineering, manufacturing and technology.

• In November, the European Commission proposed a two-year plan for closing the gender pay gap after finding little improvement in the past five years, with women in the EU earning 16.3% less per hour on average than men.

• The proposal includes setting minimum sanctions for companies that do not provide equal pay and monitoring the diversity policies of Europe’s largest companies.

Reuters/ Thomson Reuters Foundation

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