On the occasion of the International Equal Pay Day:
Ensuring that Palestinian women workers receive equal pay for work of equal value should be a priority
Across all countries, women are paid less than men, with the gender pay gap estimated at 23% worldwide. Women also earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn for work of equal value, creating a lifetime of income inequality between men and women. If this situation stays as it is, it will take 257 years to close the global gender pay gap, according to the United Nations.
Women workers in Palestine are confronted to the same issue. In Palestine, working women are exposed to many violations that affect their basic labor rights, starting with a lack of equal opportunities that hamper their participation in the labor market. Discrimination also affects women’s right to equal wages. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), in 2019, women employed in the private sector earned 71.9% of men’s wages (based on the average daily wage). Moreover, 35% of female wage workers in the private sector were paid less than the minimum wage, compared to 29% of men.
Since the adoption of Cabinet Resolution No. (11) of the Year 2012 regarding the adoption of a minimum wage, interventions to ensure the enforcement of the decision have not been sufficient to ensure its wide application in certain sectors, where women’s wages are especially low. These interventions have not succeeded in radically reducing violations of women’s right to a minimum wage, nor have they managed to hold employers accountable for their violations of women’s rights in a manner that deters them from further contraventions. A national policy to promote equal opportunities and equal treatment in employment and occupation has not been developed yet, especially with regard to the adoption and application of tools to promote equal pay for work of equal value. Although the Palestinian government has adopted commitments in its national policy agenda and national strategies towards strengthening women’s integration in the world of work and addressing gender equality gaps, there has been no noticeable progress in the past five years.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic started spreading in Palestine in March 2020, the situation has only worsened. The pandemic has highlighted discriminations and violations of rights that Palestinian working women have been exposed to. According to the Democracy and Workers’ Rights (DWRC) report on “The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic and Containment Measures on Palestinian Women Workers in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip”, a large percentage of women surveyed had been subjected to violations related to wages. Most respondents to the questionnaire indicated that they stopped working; 29.2% were not paid their wages at all during the first three months of Covid-19’s spread.
Many women are concentrated in lower-paid traditional jobs, with greater job insecurity. They are more concentrated in a more limited number of fields of study and work than, such as education and humanities, and feminized occupations. Employers take advantage of this situation, and have not been concerned with providing decent wages for women working in these sectors.
According to the United Nations, women carry out at least two and a half times more unpaid household and care work than men worldwide. In Palestine, national statistics showed that 42.5% of men participate in providing care for children, the elderly, sick and incapacitated family members, compared to 94.8% of women. A national study indicated that women in the labor force do not perform less housework than those that remained outside the labor force. In fact they spend more time performing these tasks. This was confirmed by DWRC’s study on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on working women, which stated that 42.5% of respondents indicated that the load of housework/child care increased, and they received no assistance from anyone.
 Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, 2020, Palestinian Labour Force Survey: Annual Report: 2019. Ramallah - Palestine.
 Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, 2016. Analytical Report from Time Use Survey Data 2012/2013: Final Findings. Ramallah – Palestine