Massive disparity in pay for men and women

Though the Constitution guarantees equal pay for equal work for men and women and prohibits gender discrimination, the harsh ground reality is that women are paid far less than their male counterparts in several sectors. The disparity between men and women has, in fact, widened over the past decade. This is a key takeaway from a report by the National Statistics Office (NSO), released recently, on gender parity across the Indian states.

The income effect is a leading measurable metric in wage parity that has been affected by the larger disruption of female labour participation on account of migration from towns to villages following Covid lockdowns.

While India’s Labour Force Participation Rate has been on the rise since 2017-18, women are still lagging behind men. The rate was 77.2 % for males and 32.8% for females in 2021-22, with no improvement in this disparity over the years. Several social factors, including poor access to education and gender discrimination in terms of wages and opportunities at workplaces, are responsible for this widening gap. The Equal Remuneration Act was passed in 1976 to ensure that men and women receive equal pay for equal work. But, it is observed more in the breach than in the practice. Many jobs require employees to work irregular hours, such as overtime or night shifts and due to security reasons women are unable to work irregular hours. This can result in women being passed over for promotions or being paid less than men.