Monthly Archives: May, 2013

Gender Pay Discrimination in Jordan: A Call for Change

The International Labour Organization is working with the Jordanian government and its social partners to help narrow the pay gap between men and women.

Feature | 22 May 2013

AMMAN (ILO News) – When Amira*, a Jordanian schoolteacher, asked her principal for a pay rise, it was refused. A few months later she was fired.

“The official reasons given for my dismissal were weak. I’m sure they wanted to punish me for asking for a fair wage for my work,” she says.

I only received a rise of around three per cent, while my male colleagues received seven per cent.”

Banan* works for a media company and complains she is paid at least 30 per cent less than her male colleagues for performing the same job.

“Everyone was given a pay increase but I only received a rise of around three per cent, while my male employees received seven per cent. When I pointed out this disparity to my manager, I was told it was deliberate and that a married woman’s place is at home with her children,” Banan explains.

These stories provide a snapshot of the discrimination faced by many women in Jordan’s labour market – despite the fact that the country has ratified the ILO Equal Remuneration Convention, No. 100 and the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, No. 111.

A wide pay gap

Men working in Jordan’s private sector earn on average 41 per cent more than women. In the public sector, men earn about 28 per cent more. According to official figures, the pay gap in manufacturing is 41.3 per cent; in health and social work, 27.9 per cent and 24.5 per cent in education.

Discrimination also extends to non-wage benefits such as health insurance and paid expenses – which many women are not entitled to. In addition, many employers do not provide maternity leave, forcing women to take long career breaks, leading them to fall behind in pay and promotion.

“The problem of pay discrimination is a social problem where society does not see women’s contribution to the labour market to be on the same level or importance as that of men,” says Jordanian National Commission for Women (JNCW) Secretary General, Asma Khader.

The ILO has been working with the Ministry of Labour on the issue of pay equity since 2010. As a result, a National Steering Committee on Pay Equity (NSCPE) was launched in 2011, with representation from government, the JNCW, trade unions, professional associations, employers, civil society groups, women’s research centres and the media.

Its aim is to promote the principle of equal pay for work of equal value and to take the lead in developing and implementing an action plan for pay equity.

“The NSCPE’s promotion of pay equity will enhance the participation of women in the labour market under equitable conditions,” explains Reem Aslan, the ILO’s National Pay Equity Consultant in Jordan.

Legislation change

The committee has been reviewing Jordan’s national laws, and in collaboration with the ILO commissioned an in-depth study, which examined the gender pay gap in Jordan’s private education sector. It found that men earn 41.6 per cent more in private schools and 23.1 per cent more in private universities.

The report said the discrepancies were due to a number of factors, including a tradition of undervaluing women’s jobs and qualifications, social and cultural factors and the absence of national laws.

Increasing women’s participation and promotion in the labour market … is a great priority for the Ministry of Labour.”

Abeer Al-Akhras of the Jordanian Teachers Syndicate believes part of the problem is a lack of awareness about the issue: “The individual herself sometimes doesn’t know her rights in the law and accepts everything.”

The government says it is determined to tackle the issue.

“Increasing women’s participation and promotion in the labour market, and improving women’s prospects is a great priority for the Ministry of Labour,’’ says Labour Ministry Secretary General Hamada Abu Nejmeh.

Maher al-Mahrouq, the general director at Jordan Chamber of Industry, also says change is needed.

“From the point of view of the private sector, particularly the industrial sector, this pay gap is unacceptable. In light of the constitution and labour law, we strive to reach a just and equal level for everyone in terms of pay. What is important is productivity, regardless of the gender.”

The NSCPE has recommended changes to be made in national legislation to reinforce the principle of equal remuneration for work of equal value. It hosted a symposium on the issue in Amman on May 19.

“It is important that all stakeholders work together to lobby legislators for the amendment of national legislation,” says Aslan of the ILO. “Employers need to be encouraged to adopt gender neutral salary scales and unions should be supported in collective bargaining and women encouraged to negotiate and claim their right to equal pay.’’

* Names have been changed.–en/index.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ungen+%28UN+gender+equality+news+feed%29

Women’s empowerment is key to fortifying the forestry sector

Compared to men, women are frequently disadvantaged in their access to and control over forest resources and in their ability to take advantage of economic opportunities, according to an FAO paper that calls for action on gender disparities in the forestry sector.

“Women’s roles in forestry value chains should be strengthened, as should their voices in forest organizations,” says one of the authors, Libor Stloukal, FAO Policy Officer, explaining that these are two promising ways to eliminate the disadvantages.

Men’s and women’s differing roles and opportunities in the forestry sector result in gender disparities in access to and use of forest foods, fuelwood and fodder for livestock; forest management; the marketing of forest and tree products; and participation in forest user groups. These topics are outlined in “Forests, food security and gender: linkages, disparities and priorities for action,” a paper prepared by a team led by Stloukal of FAO’s Gender, Equity and Rural Employment Division (ESW), in collaboration with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), for the International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition held at FAO headquarters from 13 to 15 May 2013.

Agroforestry activities are often gender-differentiated: while men are usually interested in trees and forests for commercial purposes, women tend to favour subsistence benefits — food, fuelwood, fodder and soil fertility improvement. A review of 104 studies of gender and agroforestry in Africa, cited in the paper, affirms that women’s participation is very high in the production and processing of indigenous fruit and vegetable products. “Women’s knowledge is often critical for household survival, but is rarely recognized in forest management plans,” Stloukal explains.

In many parts of the world, women’s forestry and agroforestry activities are less lucrative than those of men. Tree products such as charcoal, logs, timber, large branches and poles are often considered male domains and in places like the Luo and Luhya communities in western Kenya, women are restricted from harvesting high-value timber trees. “When policy makers and service providers recognize the value of women’s roles in forestry value chains — as we’ve seen with initiatives involving shea nut butter in Burkina Faso and gum karaya in India — their incomes can be raised significantly,” says Stloukal.

A number of interrelated cultural, socio-economic and institutional reasons are causing the differences between men’s and women’s opportunities in the forestry sector. They range from the social perceptions of women’s roles and the time women have to spend on domestic responsibilities and childcare to gender disparities in literacy, education, physical abilities, technical skills and access to training and credit services.

Women must not only be represented in forestry institutions, but also accepted as stakeholders with specific views and interests, the FAO paper contends. Empowerment of women through, for example, formal education, training and support for income generation would allow them to have a greater say in transformative decisions. “Efforts to include women in forest-related institutions should be strengthened,” says Stloukal, “because women can help maximize synergies between the forest sector and food security for the benefit of all.”

Published: 21/05/2013

La Suède incite les pères à rester à la maison… « La parité (…) n’est pas une question exclusivement idéologique, mais économique aussi. »

La Suède incite les pères à rester à la maison…

OLJ/AFP | mardi, mai 21, 2013

 Set Moklint et son fils Wilhelm dans un parc de Stockholm. Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP

Set Moklint et son fils Wilhelm dans un parc de Stockholm. Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP


« La parité (…) n’est pas une question exclusivement idéologique, mais économique aussi. »

Dans un parc du centre de Stockholm, un œil attentif posé sur sa fille Alma endormie dans sa poussette, Anders Weide, la trentaine, attend sur un banc un ami parti changer son fils. Dans la capitale suédoise comme ailleurs dans le pays, l’image n’étonne personne. « C’est très important de voir des pères se promener en ville avec des poussettes, ça donne l’exemple », explique Lars Plantin, sociologue à l’Université de Malmö, spécialiste des questions de parentalité. Une multitude d’études sociologiques montrent que les pères suédois sont plus impliqués que les autres dans la vie quotidienne et les travaux ménagers, relève-t-il.

Déposer et chercher les enfants à l’école, les accompagner à diverses activités mais aussi panser les bobos, rester à la maison pour les soigner lorsqu’ils sont malades et préparer les repas : les pères suédois ne rechignent à aucune tâche et investissent des terrains traditionnellement réservés aux femmes. Depuis 2011, un magazine, simplement baptisé Pappa, est consacré aux hommes qui « aspirent à accorder du temps à leurs enfants ». Au plus haut niveau, le Premier ministre Fredrik Reinfeldt n’a jamais caché sa passion pour l’aspirateur. Son ex-femme, Filippa, a gravi les échelons en politique en même temps que lui. Ils sont parents de trois enfants. En cas de séparation, les parents sont sur un pied d’égalité face aux enfants depuis 1976. « L’idée qui prévaut est que l’enfant va bien quand il a de bonnes relations avec ses deux parents, ce qu’encourage le partage de la responsabilité légale », indique Anna Singer, professeur de droit civil à l’Université d’Uppsala. « Le système encourage les pères à prendre leurs responsabilités, il a éduqué les citoyens », se félicite-t-elle. « La parité est une condition pour que la Suède aille de l’avant. Ce n’est pas une question exclusivement idéologique, mais économique aussi », estime M. Plantin. Les enfants peuvent être pris en charge en collectivité dès l’âge d’un an pour un prix modique. Car le pays estime qu’il « n’a pas les moyens de laisser la moitié de sa population en marge du marché du travail. Il ne s’agit pas de laisser les hommes à la maison mais de faire travailler plus de femmes », précise M. Plantin. D’après Eurostat, le taux d’activité des femmes est en Suède le plus élevé de l’UE, avec 77,2 % en 2011.

La Suède a encore pourtant des progrès à faire dans l’égalité au travail. Selon l’institut statistique national (SCB), si 82 % des enfants ont deux parents qui travaillent, les femmes ne sont que 42 % à travailler à temps plein, contre 74 % des hommes. Quant au symbole même de la politique paritaire, le généreux congé parental de 16 mois (au total pour les deux parents), les mères en prennent plus de 75 %. En 1974, quand il a été instauré, elles en raflaient 99,5 %. L’introduction en 1995 d’un mois réservé à l’autre parent, autrement dit le père, a forcé les hommes à s’investir. En 2002, un deuxième mois leur a été réservé. Aucune excuse pour le père qui n’en profite pas : il a jusqu’aux huit ans de son enfant. « On est dans la bonne direction mais ça va trop lentement », estime Ulrika Haggström, chargée de mission au syndicat des cadres, TCO. Selon elle, au moins trois mois devraient être réservés au père.

Passer du temps avec sa fille, dont il s’occupe depuis janvier, est « naturel » pour M. Weide. « J’aurais loupé la relation que j’ai avec Alma si je ne l’avais pas fait. Nous sommes plus soudés comme famille », affirme cet infirmier, que son employeur laissera reprendre le travail en septembre. L’entourage professionnel n’est pas toujours aussi compréhensif. « Mes collègues, surtout les hommes, n’ont pas bien compris », confie Set Moklint, 31 ans, opérateur dans un centre d’appels d’urgence. Il apprécie le coup de pouce économique de la Sécu, qui verse un bonus aux parents qui partagent équitablement le congé, pendant toute sa durée. « Ça nous fait 120 euros chacun par mois en plus. On l’aurait fait sans ça, mais ça aide ! » affirme-t-il. Selon Lotta Persson, analyste à SCB, l’implication des pères explique aussi le fort taux de fécondité de la Suède. En 2011, avec 1,9 enfant par enfant, le royaume scandinave se place juste derrière l’Irlande et la France dans les statistiques d’Eurostat.

Article published in L’Orient Le Jour newspaper :


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