Irish women will work the equivalent of from now until January 2017 for free as a result of the gender-pay gap, it has been suggested.
In Ireland women receive an average hourly wage across the economy which is 14.4% less than their male counterparts which, according to fashion designer and founder of Dress for Success Dublin, Sonya Lennon, means they are effectively working for free for the last seven weeks of the year.
"The gender pay gap is integral to our work as an organisation, as our role is to support women towards their economic independence," Ms Lennon says.
The gender pay gap is defined as the difference in the average hourly wage between men and women across the economy.
"The pay gap in Ireland widened during the austerity period,” says the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI) director, Orla O’Connor.
Childcare costs and the lack of family-friendly policies in the private sector only add to this gap, Ms O’Connor says, adding that women are also more likely than men to be reliant on minimum-wage jobs, often associated with precarious hours and contracts; for example within the retail sector.
Although increases to the minimum wage have been positive, the introduction of living wage of €11 per hour would help narrow the gender pay gap, she says. A change of culture with men is also needed to help close the gap as women are still more likely to take on family responsibilities, Ms O’Connor added.
Although part of the gap is due to women's life choices or career breaks, in some cases women in the workplace are not being valued as they should be, says Network Ireland.
“It’s sad to see that the wage gap between men and women is still so wide and this is something we are very conscious of within Network Ireland,” says group president Deirdre Waldron.
Women should be encouraged to be more ambitious when it comes to their careers, by being more assertive when it comes to equal pay, promotions and flexibility, according to the organisation.
Meanwhile, Dress for Success Dublin plans to address TDs at Leinster House next Wednesday, November 16, on how to bridge the pay gap, as part of a month-long pay equality campaign.
Dress for Success Dublin promotes the economic independence of women by providing career development tools and a support network.
“The women we work with come from all walks of life and range from early school-leavers to women struggling to find work again after a career break for family reasons,” said Sonya Lennon.
“Their common characteristic is that they’ve faced barriers in entering or re-entering the workforce."
The organisation is calling for donations of €50 to support a woman to enter or re-enter the workforce.
"By donating €50 as part of our Equal Pay Day campaign, you can help a woman overcome these barriers and take her first steps towards economic independence," Ms Lennon added.
Throughout November, Dress for Success Dublin is encouraging people to share their reasons for donating and their own thoughts on gender equality, by posting on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #EqualPayDfSD.
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