On the occasion of International Equal Pay Day, India faces the challenge of closing the persistent and widening gender pay gap in its labour market. Despite its impressive economic growth and structural transformation, India still has one of the highest gender pay gaps in the world, with women earning on average 28% less than men.
The gender pay gap in India is a result of multiple factors, such as occupational segregation, discrimination, undervaluation of women’s work, lack of social protection, and unequal distribution of unpaid care work.
Women are overrepresented in low-paid and informal sectors, such as agriculture, domestic work, and home-based work, where they have limited access to decent working conditions, social security, and collective bargaining. Women also face barriers to enter and advance in higher-paid and formal sectors, such as manufacturing, services, and technology, due to gender stereotypes, lack of education and skills, and mobility constraints. Moreover, women bear the brunt of unpaid care work at home, such as cooking, cleaning, and childcare, which reduces their time and opportunities for paid work.
Closing the gender pay gap is not only a matter of justice and human rights, but also a key driver of economic growth and social development. According to a recent study, advancing women’s equality in India could add $770 billion to its GDP by 2025. To achieve this potential, India needs to adopt a comprehensive and coordinated approach that addresses the root causes of the gender pay gap and promotes equal pay for work of equal value.