Looking forward to the annual budget? Here’s our wishlist for Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman!
A recent report states that despite same qualifications, Indian women get paid 30% less than men. This has again highlighted the glaring gender pay gap that exists in society.
A recent study shows that men with the same qualifications get paid more than women in many sectors in India.
In urban areas, a female graduate gets paid Rs 690.68 a day, while a male graduate gets paid Rs 902.45 – this is 30% more – in the transport and storage sector. Looking at rural India, the situation isn’t much better and an illiterate woman worker receives 45% less than an illiterate man – she receives Rs 88.2 per day while he receives Rs 128.52.
There are, however, some sectors in which women get paid more than men although not by such a huge amount. For example, in the construction sector in rural areas women (regardless of the level of education) are paid Rs 322 on average per day whereas men are paid Rs 279.15 which is 13% less.
It is still glaringly obvious that Indian men get paid more than Indian women overall. A victory was celebrated a few months ago because Deepika Padukone was paid a whopping Rs 13 crore for her role as Rani Padmavati in the film Padmaavat while her male co-stars were paid Rs 10 crore each. How much of a victory is it really though when most female stars have to fight against the gender pay gap all the time?
All over the world, people give us various reasons for the gender pay gap, trying to explain the inherent sexism that is the root cause of the situation. Quite a few people even go so far as to say that women just aren’t as efficient at their jobs as men. Others talk about how women are paid less because they often leave their jobs when they get married or have kids. And when it comes to the cinema industry in India, people say that women are paid less because female actors aren’t valued as much as their male counterparts by the audiences. Employers are supposedly not being sexist, they are simply being sensible according to some.
While there is a little truth to what these people are saying, it still all boils down to one thing – sexism. We, as a global community are patriarchal in nature. Yes, women often lose job opportunities because they get married and have children, especially in a patriarchal society that expects her to take up almost all of domestic responsibility, and does very little to support her as a mother.
I used to be friends with the daughters of the last domestic helper at my grandparents’ place. When the oldest was about to finish college and had managed to find a job, someone supposedly saw her with ‘her boyfriend’ and so she was married off to her cousin, protesting against it the whole time. She couldn’t take the job because it was in the city and she had to go back to her village to live with her husband. Needless to say, this story does not have a happy ending. She has a baby now and a family life riddled with problems – so much potential was lost.
If female actors aren’t as popular as male actors, that is also the result of sexism. Mostly, unless a film is ‘women-centric’, men are the default protagonists. It’s like most stories on screen have to be told through their eyes. No wonder people are more used to them.
It’s easy to leave things as they are and not worry about the status quo. But, we can be brave and make a change, tell different kinds of stories, show people how feminism isn’t just something that helps women but helps society as a whole. We can attempt to dismantle the existing structures from its root.
At some point, because we’ve uprooted patriarchy and not just its symptoms (that is, instead of just asking employers to pay an equal amount of money to both men and women, we should understand the sexism behind why this happens and change that), we can celebrate a real victory – one that includes no gender pay gap!
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