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Pay highlighted on International Women's Day

The CEO Gender Gap

The CEO Gender Gap

International Women's Day (IWD) is held annually on 8 March to celebrate women's achievements throughout the world. Largely aimed at inspiring women and celebrating their achievements, its roots are in movements campaigning for better pay and voting rights, and this year mark's the movement's 100th anniversary. But, it seems, despite the hard work, women still don't face equality in many areas, including pay.

Women may be celebrated in the likes of Italy, where men give women yellow mimosas, or in Albania and Russia, where chocolate is another popular gift to celebrate this day, but what women want is to be considered an equal.

The fact remains that in some sectors, women's pay levels remain considerably less. In Britain alone, five million or so women are living in poverty in Britain. Women have 40 percent more chance of being poor than men, with the gender pay gap still at 16.4 percent for full-time work and 35 percent for part-time.

Despite there being an Equal Pay Act in place in the UK since 1970, women still earn on average 17 percent less per hour than men for doing the equivalent role in the workplace, according to figures from The Fawcett Society.

The CEO Gender Gap

However, although the pay gap persists, there are signs that it is closing in Britain. Women's median weekly earnings for full-time employment rose by 3.4 percent between 2008 and 2009, men's rose by just 1.8 percent.

In Germany, women in Europe's largest economy on average earn 23.2 percent less than men. And while German Chancellor Angela Merkel is one of the most powerful people in Europe, there are few other female heads of state or government in the EU. Others include Finnish President Tarja Halonen, Irish President Mary McAleese and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite.

Reports on pay difference

A 2009 report by the International Labor Organization found an average 20 percent difference in pay for men and women employed full time in the Group of 20 largest developed and developing economies.

In a report, the World Economic Forum, surveyed 600 heads of human resources offices at the largest employers in 20 countries representing 16 different industries. They found companies in the US, Spain, Canada and Finland lead the world in employing the largest numbers of women from entry level to senior management , according to the by the World Economic Forum. Yet the report also found that, despite increasing awareness of gender disparities in the workplace, women at many of the world's top companies continued to lag behind their male peers in many areas, including pay and opportunities for professional advancement.

Companies in India had the lowest percentage of female employees, 23 percent, just below Japan, with 24 percent. Turkey, Austria and Italy rounded out the bottom five, with women representing just 26 percent, 29 percent and 30 percent of their staffs, respectively, The New York Times reported.

Celebrations around the world

In each country around the world, celebrations of the day differ. The theme chosen this year is progress: the progress women have made in the past century, and the long journey that many have ahead of them. The latest statistics on the lot of women in Britain and around the world suggest that some undoubted gains over those 100 years have now stalled, or been reversed, more recently, the British paper The Independent reports.

To try and combat the differences in pay, the executive European Commission has set out its plans to address the pay gap between men and women. They stated that women are on average earning only 82 percent of male rates in the EU.

Equality is to be at the heart of the Europe 2020 strategy, a 10-year plan to boost economic growth and create jobs.

There are clearly still many obstacles to overcome and some countries have more work to do than others. The EU's gender pay gap has changed little over the last 15 years and data released in 2008 by the Eurostat statistics office also showed pay gaps also still vary widely across the EU.

Jodie Humphries

Jodie Humphries graduated from Bath Spa University with a BA Hons in Creative Writing in 2008. She has worked for GDS Publishing for the digital group since July 2009. She has previous experience with writing for the web, running her own website since April 2007.

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