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Reduced Gender Pay Gap in Belgium in 2020

According to the latest report by the official statistical office in the country, Statbel, the gender pay gap in Belgium decreased in the years between 2010 and 2020.

The gender pay gap in Belgium was down to 5.3% in 2020, which is half of what it was 10 years prior. In 2010, it was 10.2%.

However, it was observed that the gender pay gap in Belgium increases with age. The value was 3.4% for individuals belonging to the 25 to 34 age group. This grows twice as much for those 55 to 64 years of age, since the pay gap is 8.9%. 

The organization NSZ showed a different picture for self-employed women within the same year. They earn 30% less than men do. This is because more women are employed in sectors that have lower average wages. Additionally, there are more women working in this arrangement as their secondary jobs.

The Gender Pay Gap in Belgium Fares Better Than Other European Countries

In 2020, the average pay gap in Europe was 13.0%. 

Belgium was only behind the countries of Luxembourg, Romania, Slovenia, Italy, and Poland. The gender pay gap in the aforementioned countries is as follows: 0.7%, 2.4%, 3.1%, 4.2%, and 4.5%, respectively.  

The gender pay gap in Belgium also decreased way more than the European average did. In 2010, the gender pay gap in Europe was 15.8%. This is only a 2.8% decrease over the past 10 years.

The Women in Work Index by PwC Decreased During the Pandemic

Furthermore, according to PwC, the situation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic was unfavorable for women. This is not just true in Belgium, but also in the rest of the world.

Many left the labor market in 2020 and, at the same time, more women were unemployed. Responsibilities at home and those related to childcare were two of the main reasons for this trend. More often than not, it is mothers who leave the workforce to attend to unpaid domestic work. They are three times more likely to do so compared to the fathers of the family.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made the goal of gender equality for women in work even more of a challenge,” said Larice Stielow. She is a senior economist at PwC UK. 

Because of this, the Women in Work Index by PwC decreased for the first time ever since it was established. This is a step back from the progress that has been made regarding gender equality at work.

Stielow adds, “To reverse the setback to women’s employment outcomes, we need governments and businesses to lead the way by rebuilding our economies with effective policies which explicitly consider the needs of women and other disadvantaged groups. This is essential if we are to improve equality and achieve a fairer future for everyone in both work and society.”

In the next few years, more OECD economies will move towards net zero emissions. This transition will result in an increase in the number of jobs available across various sectors. Utilities, construction, and manufacturing are expected to expand the most. 

However, these sectors are often mostly represented by men. Almost one-third of the male workforce in the OECD is employed by them. This is much higher than the 11% of the female workforce who are in those sectors.

Without proper interventions, the gender employment gap will widen. It is expected to increase to 22.5% by 2030. This is 1.7% higher than the 20.8% gap reported in 2020.

Because of this, the next 8 years are an especially critical time for governments and institutions to promote gender equality in the workplace.

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