Economic reality of our women hardly supports the claim that women empowerment is gaining pace in the country. Rather, what surfaced in this daily on wage discrimination recently is sad.
Female workers at Kalai in Joypurhat have become firsthand victims of biased and discriminating wage earners.
According to the report, female workers in Kalai are getting between Tk 300 and Tk 350 each by working a shift from 8 AM to 5 PM whereas their male counterparts are receiving Tk 600-Tk700 each for the same work.
Such a difference in pay is not only unfair in terms of ethics of equal pay for equal work, but also has long-term repercussions for the economic development of a nation. The lifetime earnings of women turn out to be less compared to men. Women often end up in poverty despite having similar wage employment. Poverty is a key threat to empowerment. Thus, the ability of a woman to have influence over decisions affecting her own life, such as education, health, personal expenses and childcare, is likely to be poor.
However, disparity over pay also results in low self-esteem and self-worth, reinforcing beliefs of gender inequality. We believe, this embedded discrimination also results in their psychological stress.
There are many factors behind the gender pay gap not only in Bangladesh – but in the worldwide deeply-rooted patriarchal mindset presuming that men are physically and mentally more capable than women. This perception sets the tone for not only discrimination in pay against women but also in providing them access to any type of profession.
We believe denying women’s sincere and hard labour is tantamount to underestimating their contribution. It is also ballooning discrimination between men and women unleashing family violence against the latter. Besides, not acknowledging their works is also belittling them as a driving force of our economy.
We believe it is time to launch a countrywide mass awareness campaign to promote our women, and how their works both household and external carry equal importance.
We urge the authority concerned and policy makers to chalk out a concrete plan to address long overdue issue of our women’s unacknowledged household chores. It will at least give people an idea about the role, responsibilities and contribution of our women from an economic point of view.
The government must introduce a set of strict laws and enforce them to wipe out wage discrimination. Besides, there is no alternative to educating the rural women workers about their rights. The bottom line is wage discrimination must be eliminated if we are serious about women empowerment and eradicating gender inequality.