Leaders at the UN General Assembly pledge to reduce the gender pay gap

3 Oct 2023

These commitments are expected to provide momentum in addressing the significant pay disparities between men and women, with initiatives ranging from funding apprenticeship programs to expanding pay transparency efforts.

NEW YORK (ILO News) – The United States, Iceland, UN agencies, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and other organizations pledged to reduce the gender pay gap at an event on 18 September at the UN General Assembly in New York, organized by the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC).

EPIC aims to achieve equal pay for women and men everywhere. It helps governments, employers, workers, the private sector and civil society organizations take actions to meet this goal at global, regional and national levels – in line with the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951.

The pledges will provide momentum towards reducing gender pay disparities. According to the ILO Global Wage Report 2018/19, women earn on average about 20 per cent less than men, although there are wide variations across countries.

US Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs, Thea Lee outlined the actions the Department of Labor would take: “With the aim of disrupting occupational segregation and combating pay inequality and compensation discrimination, in 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor is funding up to 14 grants totalling up to $5 million to attract and support women in accessing Registered Apprenticeship programs in high-growth, high-wage industries where they are underrepresented, such as construction, manufacturing, and cybersecurity.”

The Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, also pledged to take action: “The Icelandic government pledges to keep on the work on the implementation of the Equal Pay Standard, as well as working on Equal Pay Confirmation where applicable (companies with less than 50 employees). The goal is the elimination of the gender pay gap.”

Olena Zelenska, the First Lady of Ukraine, also shared inspirational words on the need to accelerate action on gender equality: “Ukraine was progressing in equal level of remuneration for women and men. War changed this, but the state is not losing its course. Ukraine is fighting for common values — and together we can do it more efficiently.”

Representatives from the three international organizations that lead EPIC – the ILO, UN Women and OECD – stressed the steps they would take to help reduce the gender pay gap.

The ILO will leverage a system-wide approach through the Global Coalition for Social Justice to further accelerate progress towards Target 8.5 of the SDGs; update the EPIC Global Legal Database with the latest available equal pay information; and expand the EPIC network with a goal of attracting an additional 18 members, bringing membership to 75 from 57,” said ILO Director-General, Gilbert F. Houngbo.

Sima Bahous, Executive Director of UN Women, said the agency will “continue to work with governments, civil society, and the private sector to reduce the gender pay gap in over 20 countries worldwide including through our Gender Equality Accelerator. We will also continue to mobilise and advocate for equal pay, work of equal value and entrepreneurship with our women’s economic empowerment principles at the core of our interventions.”

“OECD will expand the work on pay transparency. This includes the publication ‘Reporting Gender Pay Gaps in OECD Countries’ and related policy briefs, and workshops on digital tools for pay gap reporting and compliance with reporting rules” said Ulrik Knudsen, OECD Deputy Secretary General.

EPIC works with partners to raise awareness, share knowledge, encourage innovation, and scale up initiatives and programmes that have already yielded positive results.