International Equal Pay Day 2021: History, Theme and World Economic Forum Index

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International Equal Pay Day 2021 theme, quotes, history
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International Equal Pay Day 2021: This time on 18 September 2021, International Equal Pay Day is being celebrated globally for the second time. The International Coalition (Equal Pay International Coalition-EPIC) on the occasion of the first International Equal Pay Day, and in this difficult period of the global COVID-19 pandemic, encourages all labour market leaders to take the necessary steps to ensure  to host a virtual global call to action.

History of International Equal Pay Day

The United Nations General Assembly at its 74th session on 15 November 2019 adopted the resolution (A/C37/74/L.49) by the Third Committee declaring 18 September as the International Day of Equals.  The resolution was co-sponsored by a total of 105 member states.  Apart from recognizing the contribution of workers and employers’ organizations and businesses, the resolution also recognized the work and contribution of EPIC towards achieving equal pay. 

International Equal Pay Day 2021 Theme

In 2020 International Equal Pay Day Theme is “Building back a better future of work by ensuring pay equity”. 

International Equal Pay Day is celebrated for the second time

International Equal Pay Day is being celebrated for the second time this year on 18th September.  The day represents the long-standing efforts towards equal pay for work of equal value without gender discrimination globally.  The non-payment of equal pay for equal work is against the UN’s commitment to human rights and against all forms of discrimination.  This includes discrimination especially against women and girls.  In every region of the world, it is considered a common practice for women to be paid less for equal work. 

According to United Nations statistics, women in the world are still paid 23 percent less than men.  In dollars, women earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.  At this pace, the United Nations says it could take women about 257 years to fill this gap in gender-based pay disparity.  As a result, this disparity between men and women deepens and more women are retiring in poverty.  The #stoptherobbery campaign was launched by the United Nations Women’s Organization to spread awareness about gender-based unequal pay.

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From the very beginning, men and women are treated as separate on the basis of gender.  It is said that physically women are weaker than men.  Due to this mentality, the concept of paying less wages to women for the same work came into vogue.  But the roots of this orthodox idea, which have existed for centuries, are present in today’s modern era as well.  That’s why women have to make it clear that #equalpayforequalwork means equal pay for equal work. 

Equal pay for men and women

Equal pay for men and women has been widely advocated, but when it comes to its implementation in practice, the ground reality looks quite different.  Although the progress of international organizations in bridging this gap has been slow, success has been achieved in the direction of reducing this inequality of pay on the basis of gender, on a small scale.  According to the United Nations, equal pay is essential for human rights and gender equality. In dollars, women earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.  At this pace, the United Nations says it could take women about 257 years to fill this gap in gender-based pay disparity. 

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The Equal Pay International Alliance (EPIC) is being led by the International Labour Organization, UN Women.  The goal of this alliance is to achieve equal pay for women and men everywhere.  EPIC calls on governments, employers, workers and their organizations to take concrete steps to meet this goal.  EPIC is currently the only stakeholder partnership to bridge the gender pay gap at the global, regional and national levels. 

Credit: United Nations (UNO) 

The seriousness of equal pay in the world can be understood with an example when the team’s first goal during the Women’s Football Championship match in Brazil showed the score on the scoreboard as  0.8 instead of 1, and tried to show that women were given higher rates than men.  They are paid 20 percent less salary for the same work. 

Index of the World Economic Forum

Talking about India, in the year 2018 India was ranked 108th in the Gender Gap Index of the World Economic Forum.  Now in the year 2021, India has come down 4 places to 112.  Apart from the gender-based pay gap, India also has a huge pay disparity between the organized and unorganized sectors.  In this way, India has seen an increase in gender inequality in terms of income in the last 3 years because falling down 4 places shows its seriousness. 

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On the other hand, a report of the United Nations itself has said that due to the corona virus, more than 40 million women and girls can go into extreme poverty.  The corona epidemic has likewise destroyed the economy, so it may be that in the coming years, India’s ranking may come down even further at the global level.  Whereas for any country to come under the category of developed countries, it is necessary to reduce this gap.  Global Gender Gap Report 2020 A brief overview of the top 4 countries moving towards gender pay parity according to the World Economic Forum Report 


Not only are 85.8% of women employed in Iceland, but they also hold high senior and managerial positions to a large extent.  Here 41.5% of senior officers are women.  Apart from this, the board members of 43% of the companies are women.  Women receive only 68% of their gross pay during maternity leave in Iceland.  It is 94% in Norway, 77.6% in Sweden and 90% in France.  Iceland also tops in terms of political empowerment. 


Women are almost equal to men in labour force participation in Norway.  According to statistics, there is a gender parity of 94.5% and there are more women than men among professional and technical workers.  However, there are still fewer women in managerial positions than men.  The gap between women and men in senior roles is 35.6% / 64.4%. 


There are almost equal number of men and women in the parliament.  This share has increased from 42% to 47% as compared to the previous valuation.  The growth of women in senior roles has increased from 31.3% to 31.8% as of 2018 data.  The remaining aspects of economic participation and the opportunity gap remain largely constant, with the difference in labour force participation being relatively small.  The share of women in skilled roles is already higher than that of men. 


In Sweden, 81% of women are employed in the labor market.  In addition, 38.6% of the managerial positions are women and more than 50% are skilled workers.  Sweden has the largest share of female graduates in STEM programs.  15.7% of women obtain a degree from a technical program.  Board members of 36.3% of companies in Sweden are women. 

Brief information on Gender Gap in India

  • India is ranked 112th in the overall Global Gender Gap Index.  The economic gender gap in India is very deep.  Only a third of this difference has been reduced.  Of the 153 countries studied, India is the only country where the economic gender gap is larger than the political gender gap. 
  • Only one-quarter of women are active in the labour market, compared to 82% of men.  Only one third of women are employed in the labour market.  This figure is at the lowest rank in the world. 
  • The estimated income of women is one-fifth of the estimated income of men, which is also among the lowest incomes in the world. 
  • 14% are women in leadership roles and 30% are professional and technical workers. 
  • There are 91 girls born per 100 boys in India, which is far below the natural ratio.
  • Violence, forced marriage and discrimination in health are also rampant here. 
  • There has been some ray of hope in the field of education where the number of girl students has increased in schools. 
  • The number of girls going to school from primary to third grade is more than boys. 
  • The gap in literacy rate is huge.  Only two third of women are literate as compared to 82% of men.  The number of women in political representation is low.  Only 14.4% of the parliament is women and 23% of the cabinet is women. 

Reasons for pay gap in India 

  • In a country like India, the reasons for differences in wages based on gender are a bit more complex and can be linked to socioeconomic to structural reasons. 
  • Girls are sometimes kept out of school or forced to leave school early. 
  • Even if women are educated, many women are not allowed to work by their families. 
  • Women who are still working often have to extend leave for maternity and child care, even for other members of the household.

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