Gender wage gap pervasive

Wages about more than money, they matter from point of view of fairness, human dignity.

In Summary

• Wages one earns have a bearing on one’s life during their productive work years and upon retirement.

• Fairness includes equal remuneration for work of equal value.

South Africa's women's football team Banyana Banyana will for the first time earn the same amount of bonuses as the men's team when they take part in the Fifa World Cup from June 7.

The Banyana and Bafana Bafana players will get R320‚000 (sh2.2 million) each if their teams are able to reach the last-16 stage of the World Cup in France and the Afcon finals in Egypt.

Bafana players have always earned more in bonuses during qualifiers or at major tournaments, while their Banyana counterparts have received considerably far less. While this is great news, is it not incredulous that the gender wage gap is still an issue in 2019?

“I am angry because I have to worry about paying my bills, even though I won more World Cups than Cristiano Ronaldo.”
Abby Wambach, American retired soccer player, coach, two-time Olympic gold medalist and Fifa Women's World Cup champion.

According to the Guardian, some top male tennis players like Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have claimed men should earn more as they attract more people.

The data, though, suggests viewing figures are not gender based but determined by individual performance and personality.

As a matter of fact, from 2010 to 2014, the women’s US Open final drew a larger audience in America than the men’s final.

In 2017, while former England captain Wayne Rooney took home  $400,000 (Sh40 million) a week , the wages of his female counterpart, Steph Houghton, were meagre in comparison - around $1,600 (Sh162,160) a week.

For participating in the 2014 Fifa World Cup, the US men’s soccer team got $9 million (Sh910 million) after being knocked out in the 16th round whilst in 2015, the US women’s soccer team won the Fifa Women’s World Cup finals but only took home $2 million (Sh202 million).

To add salt to injury, there’s not a single woman on the 2018 Forbes World’s highest-paid athletes list and there was only one in the 2017 list—Serena Williams.

The gender wage gap is not only prevalent in sports but in many other professions as well.


According to Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD), the gender wage gap is defined as the difference between median earnings of men and women relative to median earnings of men.

Men are still being paid much more than women and their earnings are increasing more rapidly. This means the pay gap is widening, despite numerous initiatives to break glass ceilings and force salary disclosure.

The issue of wage inequality in the workplace has continued to gain prominence in the global policy agenda in recent years. The stats are grim. Globally, the gender pay gap is at approximately 23 per cent as women make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.

Global gender equality affects every country in the world, and signifies an economic setback of $12 trillion in global growth, according to a study by McKinsey and Company.

According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2018 by the World Economic Forum, Kenya is ranked 76 out of 149 countries. Rwanda sits pretty at six, whilst Ghana is hanging on by a whisker at 89.

The global average annual earnings indicate that pay for women in 2017 was $12,000, compared with $21,000 for men. According to the World Economic Forum report 2017, a Kenyan woman is paid Sh55 for every Sh100 paid to a man for doing a similar job.

Even after women leave the workforce, the wage gap follows them. Because women typically are paid less than men during working years, they save less, when they retire they receive less income from social security, pensions, and other sources than do retired men.

Other benefits such as disability and life insurance are also smaller for women, because these benefits usually are based on earnings. The vicious cycle of gender wage gap is silently perpetuated.

According to the ILO Global Wage Report 2016-17, wages matter because they represent a vital source of household income and consequently have a huge influence on people’s living standards.

The wages one earns have a bearing on one’s life during their productive work years and also upon retirement.

Wages are about more than money, they matter from the point of view of fairness and human dignity. Fairness includes equal remuneration for work of equal value, and the elimination of pay discrimination between men and women, or between other groups.

Pay discrimination is sector indiscriminate and is pervasive in many countries around the world. Policy reforms and shifts in attitude need to be effected to ensure that women and men access fair and equal remuneration.