The 65th CSW Side-Event: “Thank you” doesn't pay the bills: join EPIC and close the gender pay gap, 17th March 2021


Remarks by Angel Gurría,

Secretary-General, OECD

Transcript of video message
Paris, 17 March 2021

Distinguished colleagues, Champions of gender equality,

I am honoured to speak at this important meeting of the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC).

COVID-19 has devastated our economies and societies, but there is finally light at the end of the tunnel. The OECD projects global GDP to grow at 5.6% this year and 4% in 2022. While we expect the economy to bounce back, we must also ensure our society bounces “forward”. To do that, we must close persistent gender gaps.

Across the world, the gender pay gap remains at around 20%. The situation is marginally better in OECD countries, where the average gap is 13%. The pandemic has also revealed the big remuneration gap of frontline occupations, where women are over-represented. For instance, in the health and social care sector across the world, the pay gap can reach 29%. For the indispensable work they perform, applause and displays of support are not enough. We need action.

Pay transparency measures are straightforward tools that reduce the gender wage gap. Some governments have passed laws and created codes of conduct, which encourage or mandate employer transparency regarding how much men and women are paid. Thanks to these and other efforts, the gender pay gap across the OECD has decreased – albeit slowly – by 5 percentage points over twenty years. Clearly, we are not done yet.

We also need to understand the complexity of this challenge. Our new report, Man Enough? Measuring Masculine Norms to Promote Women’s Empowerment, reveals that there are negative correlations between masculine norms, including the breadwinner versus caregiver gender stereotype, and differences in labour force participation between men and women. We must turn these toxic masculine norms into positive outcomes that can empower women. For example, by promoting work-life balance programmes to recognise, reduce and redistribute unpaid care and domestic work. Governments and companies must also introduce more incentives for family friendly workplace policies.

Moving forward, the OECD will be publishing reports on pay transparency initiatives and on the gender pay gaps between and within firms, as well as country reviews of gender policies. In 2022, we will present a monitoring report of our Gender Recommendations to highlight countries’ progress on equal pay policies.

Dear friends,

As we rebuild the post-COVID-19 world, governments, employers, trade unions, civil society and other stakeholders all have to co-operate to introduce a smart mix of legislation, policy measures, workplace practices and awareness campaigns. It is EPIC effort, but worth it.

So count on the OECD to work with you, and for you, to promote equal pay for equal work!

Thank you.


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