Discrimination rife as gender wage gap widens

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According to a government study, which was conducted with the assistance of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the gender wage gap in Namibia increased to 16 percent in 2013, peaking at 37 percent in the services sector.
The gender wage gap, also known as the male-female income difference, is the difference between male and female earnings expressed as a percentage of male earnings.
According to Albius Mwiya, Director of Labour Market Services in the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, women accounted for half of Namibia’s employed population in 2013, up from 43 percent in 2004.
During a recent workshop on labour related matters at the Gross Barmen resort outside Okahandja, Mwiya elaborated that women are mostly employed in the agriculture and services industry.
“What we are talking about here is equal pay for work of equal value, which can be interpreted as a gender discrimination issue,” remarked Mwiya. He added that despite statistics showing that women in the labour force increased from 62 percent in 2000 to 74 percent in 2014, women are still massively under-represented in the corporate world. “In both the public and private sectors 44 percent of women hold senior management and middle management positions, representing a large number of the workforce but are under-represented when it comes to top management positions,” noted Mwiya.
Meanwhile, Absai Kashululu, National Training Coordinator at Women’s Action for Development (WAD), yesterday said it was statistically clear that there was still active discrimination between men and women.
“Namibia is a cultural and religious country where morality is often considered more than practicality and fairness. You will even find religious institutions that quote scriptures and misinterpret religious teachings to justify discrimination against women,” said Kashululu.
Meanwhile, a United Nations report entitled ‘Progress of the World’s Women 2015-2016’ states: “Twenty years after the Beijing Conference, there is a strong and growing global consensus on the need to achieve gender equality. We have made significant strides towards this goal, but those achievements haven’t yet yielded equal outcomes for women and girls.”
The Beijing Conference refers to the fourth World Conference on Women: Action for Equality, Development and Peace that was convened by the United Nations in September 1995 in Beijing, China.
A critical area of concern identified at that conference was the advancement of women and the achievement of equality between women and men, which the UN said is a matter of human rights and a condition for social justice and should not be seen in isolation as a women’s issue.
“Empowerment of women and equality between women and men are prerequisites for achieving political, social, economic, cultural and environmental security among all peoples,” was one of the stances taken at the Beijing Conference.

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