Table of Contents
Income inequality for women in Egypt
Background and context
The Arab Republic of Egypt joined the United Nations in 1945 upon the creation of the body thus becoming one of the fifty-one founding members. The country has a long tradition of cooperation and engagement with the United Nations, its leading bodies, Funds, programs and specialized agencies. The United Nations has tailored its operations and policies in Egypt to resonate with the needs of the society. The body remains committed to ensuring high-quality life for women as it provides direct support to promote human rights and equity.
Despite Egypt’s close relations with the United Nations and the country’s sustained commitment to adhere to the policies of the global body, gender inequality remains pronounced in the country. The gender roles in Egypt follow the traditional family structures that tie the women’s role to the domestic sphere. The disparity manifests itself in the economy as the society has a pronounced patriarchal social and cultural structure that continues to influence the country’s economic policies and growth. While the country has high unemployment rates, studies show that the country’s labor force has a significant male bias with women constituting a paltry 24.2% of the labor force (Nasr, 2010). A report by the World Bank established that women faced intense hostility in the country. Firms belonging to women, for example, required 86weeks to resolve conflicts through the legal system, unlike male-owned companies that needed 54 weeks.
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Egypt thus ranks low in gender equality. Global Gender Gap Index in 2015 ranked Egypt 136 out of 145 in gender equality to demonstrate the country’s pronounced gender inequality, especially in economic spheres. Egyptian women have low participation in the labor force and an equally low participation in education at 65% for women against 82% for men. The problem manifests further in gender pay disparity as women earn a fraction of their male counterparts despite undertaking similar tasks in companies. However, the Egyptian government has struggled to resolve the issue and comply with UN policies. Article 11 of the country’s constitution, for example, obliges the state to achieve gender equality concerning economic, political, civilian, social and cultural rights.
Relation to the topic
Economic inequality for women remains a serious economic issue in the United States that the government commits to resolve. The most conspicuous form of gender-based economic inequality is the notorious issue of gender pay gap. Apparent, American women earn less than their male colleagues do despite having similar qualifications and undertaking similar roles in the companies. The unadjusted annual salary for women averages between 87- 85% that of men’s. A report by Pew Research Center established that women earned 83% of men’s salary in 2015 (Higgins, 2016). After adjusting the choices both genders make regarding occupation working hours, college majors and parental leave, most studies establish pay rates between men and women varied by 5-6%.
The United States prides itself on being a leading democracy with respect for human rights. As such, successive governments have been working on ensuring gender equality in employment. President Barack Obama for example formulated and implemented a labor policy that required companies in the country to report to the government the pay of their employees by race and gender. The policy sought to protect minority groups from exploitative employers. At the inception of the policy, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission chairperson Jenny Yang supported the policy. She stated, “Pay discrimination goes undetected because of a lack of accurate information about what people are paid. Collecting this pay data would help fill a critical void we need to ensure American workers receive fair pay for their work” (Paquette, 2017).
American policies resonate with those proposed and supported by the United Nations. In fact, the policies strengthen the UN policies, which it encourages other countries across the world to emulate.
Resolving the gender-based inequality in Egypt requires a concerted effort by all stakeholders backed by appropriate legislation. First, the country must fight sexist biases and discrimination. Cultural and social discrimination of women has characterized the history of the country thus pushing most women to domestic affairs since traditional gender roles border the domestic sphere. The country should acknowledge gender equality (Blau, Gielen & Zimmermann, 2012). Egyptian men should admit that the women have the potential to do anything just as good as the men do.
The cultural shift should have legal backing in various aspects. First, the government should provide similar academic opportunities for girls in the country. The government should ban any form of discrimination of girls and women in their pursuit of education. Similarly, the government should make education for every child irrespective of gender. The government should also ban any form of gender-based violence and discrimination of women at the place of employment. Such laws would promote the employment of women and the provision of equal pay.
In the United States, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 strives to guarantee employees to earn equal salaries for equal work irrespective of their gender. Egypt requires similar laws.
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- Alkitkat, H. (2017). Egyptian Female Labor Force Participation and the Future of Economic Empowerment. Cairo: Cham Springer International Publishing.
- Blau, F. D., Gielen, A. C., & Zimmermann, K. F. (2012). Gender, inequality, and wages. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
- Higgins, M. (2016). The Gender Wage Gap. New York: ABDO Digital.
- Nasr, S. (2010). Egyptian women workers and entrepreneurs: Maximizing opportunities in the economic sphere. Washington, D.C: World Bank.
- Paquette, D. (2017). The Trump administration just halted this Obama-era rule to shrink the gender wage gap. The Washington Post, August 30, 2017. Available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/08/30/the-trump-administration just-halted-this-obama-era-rule-to-shrink-the-gender-wage gap/?utm_term=.b61bb6346b33