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Executive Summary for June 1st

In this week’s wrap of gender equality news: The wealth gap between women and men is costing the world $160 trillion, a study that explains why women aren’t to blame for the pay gap, and South Africa passes its minimum wage bill.

Published on June 1, 2018 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Gender Wealth Gap Is $160 Trillion, Says World Bank

The global economy is losing out on $160 trillion by allowing the gender wealth gap to persist, a report from the World Bank Group has found. This amounts to an average of $23,620 lost per person across 141 countries.

The study found that women account for only 38 percent of human capital wealth – a measure of the future earnings of adults in a given economy. The biggest disparities are in eastern Asia and the Pacific, North America and Europe, and central Asia, in each case at between $40 trillion and $50 trillion. In southern Asia, losses from gender inequality are estimated at $9.1 trillion.

“Governments can take direct action to correct this gap at the economic level, at the policy level, at the education level, but they have to be willing to act,” one of the report’s co-authors, Benedicte de la Briere, told News Deeply.

Women Not to Blame for Pay Gap – Study

Women are not responsible for the fact that they are paid less than men, a new paper from Rice University argues. The study’s authors debunk five common misconceptions about the gender pay gap: that women do not do equal work to men; that women leave work to have children; that they earn less because they choose less lucrative work; that they don’t ask for what they want and that they don’t have the same education or experience as men.

The authors note that women often work more hours than men and do more outside work. Most women also work through their pregnancies, and gaps arise not because of having children but because they are given fewer opportunities on returning from maternity leave. While women are concentrated in lower-paid professions, those in higher-paying jobs are still paid less than their male counterparts for the same work. The authors further argue that women are punished for taking strong negotiating positions, while men are rewarded, shifting the blame for lower remuneration to employers who respond differently to requests based on gender. Finally, it is demonstrated that women are more likely to hold a higher degree than men and the gender gap persists even when experience is accounted for.

The authors call for an end to “victim blaming” attitudes that hold women responsible for their own disadvantages in the workplace, and suggest that employers invest in better training, better work-life balance for employees and implement anti-discrimination policies.

Controversial Minimum Wage Law Passed in South Africa

The South African parliament has passed the country’s first ever minimum wage bill, amid criticism from some unions and campaign groups that the figure set is too low. The bill establishes the minimum wage as 20 rand ($1.60) an hour, but domestic workers, most of whom are women, will receive 15 rand ($1.20). Having been passed by parliament, the legislation has to pass in the upper house before being sent for signing into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

While the Congress of South African Trade Unions has welcomed the introduction of a minimum wage, the recently formed South African Federation of Trade Unions has said it “legitimizes poverty” and has threatened a two-day nationwide strike in protest.

The treasury has said the lower rate for domestic workers will be reviewed after a year, as the sector is “poorly organized” and “vulnerable to disemployment.” More than 1 million women are employed in private households in South Africa.

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