Gender Wage Gap Widens to 16 Percent

THE gap between what men and women earn in the country has widened to 16%, according to labour experts.

The director of labour market services in the ministry of labour, industrial relations and employment creation Albius Mwiya, who made a presentation this week on the labour market situation in the country, said men still earn better wages than their female counterparts.

“What we are talking about here is equal pay for work of equal value, which can be interpreted as a gender discrimination issue,” he said.

He added that there was a massive under-representation of women in the corporate world, despite evidence that reveals participation of women in the labour force (those actively searching for jobs) increased from 62% in 2000 to 74% in 2014. Mwiya also said more women were applying for scholarships than men.

“Women’s share in employment increased from 43% in 2004 to 50% in 2013. Women are mostly employed in agriculture and services but their share in the industry declined from 38% to 18%,” he said.

“Signs of continued labour market discrimination are evident, such as white men dominating at higher management levels in the private sector, while black women form the majority in temporary, insecure and informal jobs,” he said.

Mwiya said that 44% of women in senior management and middle management positions represent a large number of the workforce but are under-represented when it comes to top management positions.

“Not only in the private sector but also in the public sector,” he said.

Mwiya explained that time-related underemployment affects less than 10% of the employed, with women being more affected than men. “Low pay rates declined for men but increased for women between 2008 and 2013,” he explained.

Mwiya also made a presentation on the progress being made in regard to the abolishment of child labour in the country, stating that more than 35% of Namibian children are forced to work when they should be in school and enjoying their childhood.

The ministry of labour says it is concerned that although the action plan towards the elimination of the worst forms of child labour existed until 2012, in practice, child labour still persists.

“Child labour is still widespread, affecting 38,5% of children aged six to 17 years in 2005. Most prominent were schooling-related child labour and excessive hours of work,” said Mwiya.

In 2010, the child labour rate decreased to 36,6% with girls and children in rural areas most affected. Government statistics also revealed that hours-related child labour was dominant in 2010, with the main cause being poverty.

Mwiya said despite this, greater awareness on child labour was achieved. “Child labour remains high, especially hours-related in agriculture and private households,” he said.

The deputy director at the International Labour Organisation’s office in Pretoria, Joni Musabayana, who also confirmed child labour was prevalent, said child labour is work that prevents children from attending school. This is work that is considered hazardous to children.

“Child labour denies children the right to education and is done for commercial gain,” he said.

Musabayana said that some children were separated from their families to work for another family when they should be in school and enjoying all the privileges of being children.

Source : The Namibian