NGOs to observe Equal Pay Day

The average hourly wage of female employees is about 84 percent of the wage their male counterparts receive.

cubicles 521 (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash 90)
cubicles 521
(photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash 90)
Four Israeli organizations will hold an Equal Pay Day on Tuesday in order to promote uniform pay for men and women, a project funded by the European Union and carried out as part of a three-year plan.
The four partners include Shatil, an initiative of the New Israel Fund which works to promote freedom, justice and equality in Israel; the Israel Women’s Network, which aims to improve the status of women in the country; the Adva Center, which examines Israeli society from the perspective of equality and social justice; and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Israel.
Equal Pay Day, an event inspired by the American initiative by the same name, traditionally occurs yearly in April, the month which represents how far into the year women have to work in order to close the income gap with men’s earnings for the previous year.
Keren Kirsh from the Israel Women’s Network, who has been involved in the project since last year, explained that Tuesday’s event is intended to raise awareness of the issue of salary gaps and “make sure the subject becomes a more central topic of conversation.”
“On the one hand, people know this problem still exists; on the other, they don’t think there is much to be done about it,” Kirsh told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. “It may be a slow process, but it’s important not to get frustrated or accept it just because ‘that’s the way it is.’ “Most women don’t know that the law in Israel obliges employers to provide their workers with information and data they ask for concerning their colleague’s salaries. So when your company makes you sign a confidentiality clause, they in fact weaken you,” she pointed out.
“This is just an example of things women don’t know they can check. And even then, it is hard to go and complain or sue your employer; there is a price to that.”
Kirsh explained that most women don’t take action regarding equal pay because of “not fear but rather rational thinking. We are always told ‘choose your battles,’ so most of them ask themselves: ‘Do I want to take on this struggle? And do I want to do it now?’” She added that the gaps in salaries represent an issue which is deeply rooted in social norms and attitudes.
“It is very comfortable for us women to say that we chose it this way, that it is our choice to work less in order to take care of our kids and our home, but our choices are not disconnected from the social and economic context, which leads us to make this choice,” she said.
Kirsh told the Post that she hopes the project will raise awareness, encourage women to come forward with their concerns and lead to more transparent employment conditions.
“In a constantly changing job market, with much less regulations, I also hope it gives employees and employers the tools to understand that there are social consequences to whatever they do.”
According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development for the year 2012, provided by the Equal Pay project, women account for nearly half of the civilian labor force in Israel and earn on average 66 percent as much as men.
The average hourly wage of female employees is about 84 percent of the wage their male counterparts receive.
Israel is ranked fourth among OECD countries with the biggest gender salary gaps, after Germany, Korea and Japan.
According to a study on employment in Israel conducted by the Adva Center and released on Tuesday, women are among the country’s lowest earners along with Arabs, people who lack a high school diploma and immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
Representatives of the Equal Pay project are expected to attend a discussion on the topic at a meeting of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women, headed by Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie, on Tuesday morning.