The Gender-Pay Gap and the Family in the Gulf: Root Causes, Implications and Policy Response
Despite the remarkable progress in women's status in countries of the Gulf gender equality remains unfulfilled. According to evidence, the Gulf has been underperforming on the arena of women's economic participation, despite of excellent outcomes of Gulf women's educational attainments. A phenomenon which was named by the World Bank the 'gender paradox' of the Middle East. Globally, the low level of women's participation in the labor force has proved to be costly for nations' development and economic growth; notably because it limits countries' economic size and growth prospects. The gender-pay gap influences women's participation in the labour market substantively. It effects their lives in the family level and individually. According to evidence it decreases family incomes and increases poverty. Although, women contribute significantly to the family's economic well-being, they continue to earn less than their male colleagues. Families that have mother as a sole breadwinner are disadvantaged more by the gender-pay gap. The gender-pay gap gains significance importance on the family life especially in the case of the loss of male provider's job. It is important to understand the causes of the gender-pay gap, its implications on women and the family and identify needed policy measures and interventions in order to mitigate such a situation. The presentation is based on a policy study on "Comparative analysis of Gender Equality in Social Welfare in Qatar, Oman and Kuwait", which is basically a literature review that utilized available qualitative and quantitative secondary data to obtain an adequate picture on this issue. The gender pay-gap is linked to a myriad of legal, socio-cultural and economic factors that go far beyond the single issue of equal pay for equal work or for work of equal value. The undervaluing of women's work, horizontal and vertical segregated labor market, lack of family-work reconciliation policies combined with traditional and stereotypical images of women's role in society are but some of the reasons causing the gender-pay gap. The presentation will seek to analyze the impact of the gender-pay gap on women and the family and provide recommendations for policy-making on this vital issue.