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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The International Instruments on Gender Pay Equity

  • Author(s): Chen, Cher Weixia;
  • et al.

Today in the world women are earning around 78% of what men are earning. Gender pay gap ironically is still one major feature of the modern labor market, despite the fact that the right to equal pay is one of the founding principles recognized by the 1945 ILO constitution amendment.

Since 1919 the right to equal pay was discussed during the preparation for the ILO constitution, scholars have been constantly making efforts to explore the potential solutions to gender pay differentials. In 1980s there was an explosion of economic research on wage determination and sociological analysis of the marketplace and occupational structure. The causes of the gender pay gap has been attributed to differences in productivity characteristics of men and women, the characteristics of enterprises and sectors employing men and women, the jobs held by women and men, the number of hours devoted to paid work, and discrimination in remuneration. One common solution proposed to solve gender pay differentials is “comparable worth” or “pay equity”, which employs some objective criterion for determining wages excluding the use of gender as one of determinants. In the past two decades, with the emerging feminist theory, gendering perspective has perpetuated into workplace policy analysis in the industrialized states. This paper examines the pertinent international standards and national policies concerning gender pay equity, seeking to explain whether and why there is compliance of this international labor standard.

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