Economics and Social Committee Briefing

The Question of Reducing Income Inequality between Genders

Income inequality is defined by the World Bank as variations in living standards among a society, nation or on a global scale due to differentials in income. The issue of income inequality between genders is dire issue to ensure global development. Currently, women earn around 77.1% of what men earn. According to MDG targets and indicators, gender discrimination in terms of income is most prominent in regions including but not limited to Oceania, Southern Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Western Asia, which correlate with gender discrimination on other aspects such as secondary education enrolment as well as access to decent employment. Although the gender pay gap seems to have tightened in recent years, the International Labour Organization (ILO) states that income levels of women are still considerably lower than that of men.

The ILO categorizes income inequality between genders into two categories: horizontal occupational segregation and vertical occupational segregation. Horizontal occupational segregation is considered to be a cause of discrimination and stereotyped assumptions where women, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, work in a smaller and lower-paying range of occupations or industries than men. Vertical occupational segregation takes the form of women being under-represented at highly paid levels. Efforts to reduce the gender pay gap must therefore focus on both of these areas. The ILO also identifies gender differences in education and training, and the typical enterprise size women work in to be the cause of income inequality between genders.

Efforts to reduce income inequality between genders include the Equal Remuneration Convention, which contains the sole purpose to enhance “work for equal value for men and women”. Since June 2013, the convention has been ratified by 172 out of the 185 members in the ILO.  The convention has the ability to establish national laws or regulations regarding minimum wage or wage determination, but has not taken affirmative action in doing so thus far. Instead, the convention’s actions has consisted mostly of giving guidance to job evaluation methods and assisting negotiations for equal pay agreements. Perhaps members of this convention could take more definitive, concrete action.

Organizations, sectors or events that are involved in income inequality include:

  • Conditions of Work and Employment Committee (TRAVAIL) analyzes and provides assistance to ILO members on maternity protection and wage equality
  •  Economic and Social Council 56th session on narrowing gender gap and empowering rural women
  • 2015 Millennium Development Goal No. 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
  • Women Watch: UN subsection which provides discussion of gender equality issues online

The Question of Regulating the Influence of Multi-National Corporations in LEDCs

Least Economically Development Countries (LEDCs) are the poorest subset of Less Developed Countries (LDCs), where nations have among the lowest living standards and are rated lowly on the Human Development Index (HDI) compared to other countries. These factors cause LEDCs to be vulnerable and susceptible towards the influence of multi-national corporations. Multi-national corporations (MNCs) are companies that are registered in more than one country. Due to their dominance in production and selling of goods, they often behave monopolistically which can affect LEDCs that are largely dependent on these corporations. Multi-national corporations can influence LEDCs through driving down wages and price discrimination.

Factors to consider when regulating the influence of multi-national corporations include considering national sovereignty when implementing international acts. International policies have to comply with national policies.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) provides extensive research facilities and guidance that is key to gathering information about MNCS. In addition, the World Trade Organization (WTO) consistently monitors trade between countries and establishes trade agreements. Delegates are advised to incorporate these organizations when regulating multi-national corporations.