Gender gap: Pay gap still wide in Bangladesh, needs much improvement

IFTIDA ISLAM EME | Thursday, 10 December 2020

Gender pay gap – the difference between the median earnings of men and women – is widening around the world with the time, making women’s fight for equal pay harder. The good news is that Bangladesh, according to an UN-ILO report, has the lowest gender pay gap ratio – 2.2 per cent – in the world in comparison to the global average of 21.2 per cent.

But that’s not all in ending gender gap. In eliminating gender gap, Bangladesh has lots to do and improve. For example, Bangladesh has a substandard point in recruiting women in higher positions, explicitly in the technology sector and the business sector. People often falsify that Bangladeshi women can’t do challenging jobs, whereas in reality it’s diametrically untrue.

According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, companies with female-majority ownership in Bangladesh are only 1.70 per cent, whereas firms with female top managers are 4.80 per cent. Women’s role in both leadership and decision-making in both businesses and company boards of the country is far too low.

The merits in the report are reflected in what a female economics graduate from Dhaka University has been experiencing at a company. “After my graduation, I have managed a job as an associate at the Market Monitoring Unit of a reputed pharmaceutical company in the city. But soon I noticed that the company is somehow devaluing my efforts and discouraging women leadership,” the female graduate says.

According to the Dhaka University graduate, her salary is less than her male counterparts. She said she had approached the high ups to address the issue only to be indirectly told to resign. She shared her experience anonymously, anticipating that her revealed identity could aggravate her already unfavourable situation in the company.

There are many answers to the question of why women are paid less, but those answers are clearly not acceptable. Some try to ascribe gender pay gap to women choosing flexible hours, engaging in more part-time work, leaving office to care for children or taking on other cognitive responsibilities. However, former Ittefaq editor Tasmima Hossain aptly says women are double timers as they have to work both at home and workplace.

According to a World Bank report, South Asia is the region that has improved the most in terms of gender gap over the past 10 years. Even though the report suggests so, Bangladesh, which reportedly has the lowest gender pay gap ratio too, must not feel complacent as gender pay gap is still wide in the country, not to mention gender gap.

So, Bangladesh just should echo what newly elected US president Joe Biden has recently said promising to ensure equal pay: “Equal pay for equal work. It's common sense. It's also overdue. Let's close the gap and let's do it now.”

The writer is an undergraduate student of human resource management at Chittagong University. She can be reached at [email protected]