Bangladesh's women in the health and care sector earn 14.8% less than men per hour, which is 6.9% in other sectors of the economy, according to a new joint report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The report entitled "The gender pay gap in the health and care sector: A global analysis in the time of Covid-19" released on 13 July, however, says Bangladesh is in a better position when compared with the global average.
Globally, women in the health and care sector are getting paid 19.2% less than men per hour worked, and this gap is 11.5% in other economic sectors.
The report covers 54 countries that met the requirement for this empirical analysis.
Bangladesh is among the 18 countries whose mean hourly gender gap in the health and care sector is twice as high as in other sectors of the economy. The other countries are Brazil, Chile, Italy, Bolivia, Poland, and Vietnam.
The report also reveals that women in the health and care sector earn 24% less than men globally in terms of average monthly income.
In the health sector, women account for 67% of global employment. But, this percentage varies with the degree of economic development. In lower-middle income countries, it is 63.8%, whereas, it is 75.3% in high-income countries.
Although women's participation in this sector is more concentrated, much of the wage gap is unexplained, perhaps due to discrimination toward women. However, the report found that age, education, and gender segregation across occupational categories are some of the factors that influence the gender pay gap.
Dr Sayed Abdul Hamid, professor at the Institute of Health Economics, said, "There is no chance of discrimination in the government health care sector. The discrimination may exist in the private or NGO-based health care sector. The discrimination may be frequent among technical and support health workers rather than professional health care personnel."
He further added that discrimination creates an inferiority complex among the low-paid workers and makes them apathetic about the responsibility. This would lead to lower productivity, which would not be a good thing for the institution, he continued.
Professor Hamid said it is good news that the gender pay gap is lower in Bangladesh than the weighted average global gap.
"But, there should not be any gap just based on gender. To reduce the gap, the government may step in with policy measures. Also, every healthcare institution should follow a pay scale while recruiting healthcare workers, especially technical and support health workers. The pay scale is not necessary to be uniform across the institution," he added.
Jim Campbell, director of the Health Workforce Department at the WHO, said, "Women comprise the majority of workers in the health and care sector, yet in far too many countries systemic biases are resulting in pernicious pay penalties against them,"
"The evidence and analysis in this ground-breaking report must inform governments, employers, and workers to take effective action. Encouragingly, the success stories in several countries show the way; including wage increases and political commitment to pay equity," he added.