International Equal Pay Day 2020: Building back a better future of work by ensuring pay equity


Remarks by Angel Gurría

OECD Secretary-General

18 September 2020 - Paris, France

(As prepared for delivery) 



Distinguished Guests, Dear Colleagues and Friends,

It is an honour to join you in this first ever International Equal Pay Day, which serves as a stark reminder of the persisting injustice of women being paid less than men. Across the world, the Gender Pay Gap remains at around 20%. The situation is marginally better in OECD countries, where the average gap is 13% at median earnings. But progress remains slow: over the past twenty years, we have only seen a reduction of 5 percentage points.

The economic fallout from COVID-19 threatens to reverse the progress we have made. Sectors that are major employers of women – such as food and beverage services, accommodation and retail – have been among the most affected by the crisis. And women tend to do a much larger share of unpaid care work than men – on average twice as much in OECD countries – which makes finding alternative employment more difficult for them.

The crisis disproportionately exposed women to the virus, as they make up almost 70% of the workforce in the health sector and just over 90% of the long-term care (LTC) workforce on average across OECD countries. We have also documented an increase in domestic violence against women during the pandemic.

Governments have taken swift action to respond to the crisis, including by providing childcare support to working parents in essential services and encouraging flexible working.

But government policy, no matter how effective, is not enough. Looking ahead to the recovery phase, we need to address structural inequalities – by mainstreaming gender considerations in economic and social policy measures.

Governments, employers, trade unions, civil society and other stakeholders have to work together to introduce a smart mix of legislation, policy measures, workplace practices and awareness campaigns. This is why the Call to Action that will be presented shortly is so important.


Dear friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the OECD, we remain committed to EPIC and to promoting equal pay for work of equal value to Build Back Better.  Thank you.



See also:

OECD work on Gender


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