Georgia Joins the Equal Pay International Coalition

Article, 20.09.2020

18 September saw the first ever celebration of the International Equal Pay Day. On this day, Georgia officially declared its intention to join the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC). The decision will be consummated with the signing of the application this fall.

The Equal Pay Gap is a global issue. No country, whether they are rich or poor, can claim to have fully tackled the problem, and Georgia is not an exception. According to GEOSTAT’s 2019 preliminary data, the gender pay gap stands at 35.5 per cent in Georgia, meaning that on average, a woman only earns 64.5 per cent of a man’s salary. According to another survey, notably, “Analysis of the Gender Pay Gap and Gender Inequality in the Labour Market in Georgia”, published in 2020 by UN Women in the frames of the SDC and ADC-funded “Women’s Economic Empowerment” project, the hourly gender pay gap in Georgia is estimated at 17.7 per cent, with the monthly pay gap of 37.2 per cent.

So, why do women earn less? Although it is a serious issue for every country, the reasons behind it can vary quite drastically. In Georgia, for instance, the work-life balance is one of the principle causes, with women spending fewer hours in paid work than men. The gender pay gap can also be explained by the overrepresentation of women - especially single mothers or those with families - in relatively low-paying sectors. By joining EPIC, Georgia will enhance the enforcement of the ILO Equal Remuneration Convention principles of 1951 (No. 100) which the country ratified in 1993. Georgia’s membership in EPIC will open up the prospects of cooperation towards achieving pay equality in Georgia through sharing knowledge, encouraging innovations, and fostering positive practices. To this end, Georgia will commit to numerous obligations, including - but not limited to - taking active steps towards the eradication of pay inequality with the involvement of the trade unions and the employers’ associations to promote pay transparency.

The Equal Pay International Coalition was created with a clear mandate: to achieve equal pay for women and men alike. Led by the ILO, UN Women, and the OECD, EPIC members include countries, employers’ and workers’ organizations, private sector, civil society and UN entities.

On the occasion of the Equal Pay Day, UN Women and the Government of Georgia hosted an online conference with the participation of governmental, international and non-governmental organizations, as well as diplomatic missions accredited in Georgia, and distinguished international guests, including Dr. Sylvie Durrer, Director of the Swiss Federal Office for Gender Equality, and Ms. Tatevik Stepanyan, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs of the Republic of Armenia. The keynote speakers pinpointed the importance of gender equality as a fundamental human right, and paramount to achieving vibrant, cohesive societies, as well as highlighting the significance of closing the gender wage gap in growing each state's economy. Representatives from the Georgian Government undersigning the application for EPIC membership reiterated Georgia’s commitment to the global aspiration for an equal future, highlighting the importance of a holistic approach, the support of international partners, the role of social partners, and broader engagement towards the closure of the equal payment gap.

The conference was organized within the framework of the “Women’s Economic Empowerment” project, funded by the SDC and ADC, and implemented by the UN Women. The project was launched in 2018 with an aim of economically empowering women, particularly the poor and socially excluded in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, in order for them to have opportunity to actively participate in decision-making processes.