Singapore, 10 Feb 2018 – The call for gender wage parity is not a recent phenomenon and predates the women’s suffrage movement of the 1920s. Although the International Labour Organisation was set up in 1919, it was only in 1951 that the Equal Remuneration Convention (No. 100) was formally adopted. In 1962, then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, recognising the power of the women’s vote, signed into law “equal pay for equal work” within the Singapore civil service.
Have you ever asked a colleague what his pay is? Probably not, as it would be considered impolite to do so. Yet in a capitalist society, your pay is often considered to be your value to society. “Equal pay for equal work” is a basic tenet of human rights – and it is a very important question to ask and be informed about.
What you earn today has another important dimension. Besides having a bearing on current purchasing power, it also has a cumulative effect on your ability to invest and gain possible future income.
As women outlive men on average, the ability to accumulate funds ahead of retirement becomes even more important.
In Singapore, the current discussion on social inequality encompasses income inequality. Women are generally over-represented in lower-income bands and under-represented in the higher-income bands – an observation hardly unique to Singapore, though.