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A boost for the equal pay struggle


UN Women, EPIC, ILO, equal pay, SDG target 8.5Equal pay for work of equal value is central to the achievement of gender equality.

Throughout all regions, countries and sectors worldwide, women are paid less than men.

The G20 and OECD countries’ median monthly earnings for women are on average 17 per cent below those of men and, elsewhere, the situation is not any better.

An ‘Equal Pay International Coalition’, to be known also as ‘EPIC’, has been officially launched this week during the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Led by the International Labour Organization (ILO), UN Women and the OECD, the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC) aims to contribute to the achievement of SDG target 8.5 which focusses on equal pay between women and men for work of equal value.

SDG target 8.5 is the one that says: “By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value”.

EPIC does not aim to replace existing partnerships; it wants to multiply their outreach and impact, providing a framework within which existing initiatives and organisations can connect with and reinforce each other.

Indicators of success will be: a reduced gender pay gap; a demonstrated commitment to achieving equal pay; and the universal ratification of relevant international labour standards.

In September 2015, a summit of heads of state adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to frame the global development agenda, the 2030 Agenda, for the next 13 years.

Within that framework, a standalone ‘Goal 8’ was established calling for the promotion of sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

EPIC will assist UN Member States in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goal 8, target 8.5, and Goal 5, aimed at achieving gender equality and empowerment for all women and girls.

Equal pay for work of equal value is central to the achievement of gender equality and empowering women and is key to inclusive growth and poverty reduction.

The ILO-Gallup world survey Towards a Better Future for Women and Work: Voices of Women and Men  showed that worldwide, women want to be in paid jobs. It also showed that one of the main challenges for women at work is unequal pay.

While the ultimate goal of EPIC is to achieve equal pay for work of equal value, and as such reduce the gender pay gap, it does recognise that different countries will be starting from a different base, but that all of them need to move progressively towards this goal.


EPIC is built on the recognition that no single actor can solve this challenge alone and that efforts can be accelerated through leveraging expertise across a diverse range of stakeholders.

And, as Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, said: “There is no justification for unequal pay for a woman when her job is of equal value to a man’s.

“This injustice has been unseen for too long, and together we are changing that.

“Equal pay for women translates into lifelong benefits for them as well as their families: better career prospects and lifetime earnings, greater independence, and higher investments in their children’s education and health.”

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