Thanks to a historic decision, Brazil has become the first Latin American country to require employers, both public and private, to remunerate men and women equally for the same work. The decision, adopted by the Brazilian Senate last Thursday, is a result of a bill initiated by the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, which was one of his campaign promises in October of last year when he pledged commitment to gender equality and combating sexism and domestic violence.
The Woman Post | Ayda María Martínez Ipuz
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With this decision, adjustments are made to the Labor Laws, which encompass all labor legislation since 1943 and required updates for modern times and women's advancements and achievements. According to the new provisions, transparency and mandatory remuneration mechanisms will be applied in all companies and entities. The new legislation creates enforcement tools to ensure compliance, establishes hefty administrative fines for non-compliance, and provides reporting mechanisms for women to file complaints regarding inequitable treatment.
Furthermore, in cases of wage discrimination based on sex, race, ethnicity, origin, or age, the employer, in addition to paying the wage differences, will be penalized with an administrative fine equivalent to ten times the value of the affected employee's new salary.
The bill has progressed swiftly in instances such as the Chamber of Deputies, where it was approved by a wide majority, as well as in the Senate, which forwarded it to the Brazilian presidency for sanctioning. On May 1st, on International Workers' Day, Lula reiterated the need to approve the initiative and emphasized that "for the first time, without commas or periods, women will earn the same salary as men." He lamented that women are still treated differentially in the labor world "as if they were inferior" and described the lack of respect against women in the workplace as "shameful."
According to official statistics, women represent 51.1% of the working population in Brazil, earn less, and have better professional education. In fact, 19.4% of women complete university studies compared to 15.1% of men. Additionally, women hold fewer managerial positions (37.4% of the total) and receive, on average, a remuneration equivalent to 77.7% of men in the same role.
In the case of Latin America, a recent report by Aequales shows that women earn approximately 89.4% of men's salaries, resulting in a 10.6% difference for level one employees. For level two employees, the figure drops to 77.6% of the salary with a difference of over 22%.
According to data from the United Nations, women are concentrated in poorly paid and low-skilled jobs, earning 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. Additionally, women are underrepresented in decision-making positions, despite performing at least 2.5 times more unpaid work than men.
Without adopting similar measures as Brazil, it will take 257 years to close the gender wage gap globally, according to the United Nations.