In Iceland, women in the workforce have found a novel way to protest the gender gap in salaries. On Monday, thousands left their workplaces at 2.38 p.m., i.e., 14% earlier on a normal eight-hour work-day—because they are paid 14-18% lesser than their male peers. They argued, they are being paid nothing for all the work they do after 2.38 p.m. What’s striking about the protest and the underlying cause is that Iceland, as per the World Economic Forum (WEF), has the smallest economic gap based on gender. In spite of this, at the current rate of closing of the wage gap, it will take another 52 years for “equal pay for equal work” to materialise in the country. The world, overall, will take 170 years to close the economic gender gap—wage gaps are a key contributor—despite women catching up with or surpassing men in 95 countries on educational achievement.
So, how does India fare? The WEF report says it has closed its gender gap by 2% over last year and has jumped from the 108th to the 87th spot in terms of gender equality. But when it comes to economic participation and opportunity, it ranks a lowly 136th (out of 145 economies) and 103rd for wage equality—despite women working longer than men. The government, however, has its task cut out if women are to enjoy the same economic standing as men. At the 113th spot for the gap between men and women for educational attainment, a Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao needs to be pushed at all levels of education, especially given, as per the WEF, women make for a smaller part of the strength of R&D personnel in the country than men and join STEM courses in drastically smaller numbers.