By Hilary Mare
A report compiled by the National Planning Commission titled Status of the Namibian Economy and released last week, has called for policy interventions into Namibia’s gender pay gap that has women earning 1.7 percent less per hour on average than men.
Subsequently, industry experts have expressed dismay at the current gender inequality status, describing the gender pay gap that also puts monthly earnings for males 11.4 percent ahead of their female counterparts as unacceptable.
Confidente has also noted that this pay gap is contained in the 2014 labour force survey conducted by the Namibia Statistic Agency, and that the 2016 version of the survey slightly narrows down the pay gap.
In layman’s terms, the gender pay gap is the average difference between a man’s and a woman’s remuneration.
The report notes that in terms of income levels, the average monthly wage has increased with N$133 since 2014 at a national level from N$6 626 to N$6 759, but there is a significant difference between sex, professions and industries.
“Females are lowly paid as compared to male counterparts in the same industry. With the professionals mean monthly wage of N$19 907 being the highest, while people employed in private households earn the lowest at N$1 334,” affirms the report.
In 2016, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) ranked Namibia the second most unequal country in the world after South Africa. This is despite the observed declining trend in inequality over the last twenty three years of about 14.1 percentage points.
“While poverty analyses the situation of individuals at the bottom of the income distribution, inequality looks at the income distribution of the entire population. Thus inequality looks at the homogeneity with regards to income of various groups within the population which is crucial for policy intervention. To address inequality in the country, policy intervention needs to be devised aimed at addressing the observed wage differences,” the National Planning Commission said in the report.
Affirming these calls, Deputy Labour Commissioner, Tuulikki Muafufya-Shikongo told Confidente that this issue should be addressed urgently, adding that she had reservations on how women in nursing have been paid lowly over the years yet it is a female dominated industry.
“The findings are negative and should be addressed with urgency. You cannot discriminate based on gender because in some instances women are even doing more than their male counterparts. This is discrimination that is also prohibited by our constitution,” she said.
Employment Equity Commissioner, Vilbard Uusiku also told this publication that this is a global issue and that although he does not have the figures, he would not be surprised if this is the case in Namibia.
“This is a world problem. Even though we do not have these figures, I would not be surprised if it is the case in Namibia. It is a global trend where employers underpay women, than man for work of equal value.
“However, in Namibia, the law is clear that there should be no discrimination in pay on the grounds of sex or any other reason for work of equal value,” said Uusiku.
Interestingly, inequality increased in seven of the thirteen regions namely, Khomas, Kunene, Ohangwena, Omusati, Zambezi, Karas and Otjozondjupa, between 2003 and 2010, indicating that the economic growth of 4.2 percent experienced during this period benefited the population differently.
“The position of labour in the current economy is actually worrying; the trends over the last years indicate that the economic activities in the Labour market did not favour most participants in the labour market, as characterized by low employment figures,” extends part of the report.
One of the targets of the Fifth National Development Plan (NDP5) is to reduce the gini-coefficient which is a measure of inequality from 0.572 in 2016 to 0.500 in 2022. This is a 7.0 percentage point reduction over a five year period, translating to an annual reduction of 1.4 percent.
On the other hand, unemployment remains one of the country’s biggest challenges given that it recorded 34.0 percent in 2016 which is 6.6 percentage points increase over the 2014 rate. Unemployment rate is highest in Kunene and Zambezi Regions, which recorded 62.8 and 58.3 percent respectively.
It is expected to remain above 34.0 percent in the next two years, with estimations placing it at 37.3 and 35.9 percent in 2017 and 2018. Namibia has significantly managed to increase access to education evidenced by 98.6 percent enrolment rate achieved in light of children accessing education in 2015.
However, quality of education remains a challenge stemming from persistently high dropout, repetition, and survival rates in almost all school phases (primary, junior and secondary education).
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015