A little bit of a different blog post on an issue that I wanted to share. Being in the midst on University and thinking about my future career, it made me think about the unsolved and on going issue of the Gender Pay Gap around the world, which made me want to understand what was really going on. So here in this article, I investigated the issue and spoke to a female Labour MP, Katherine Chibah, to see what her thoughts were. Enjoy!
Despite it being the Equal Pay Act’s 50-year anniversary soon, why are women still earning less than men? Labour MP, Katherine Chibah tells us her thoughts on the issue. Interview by Megan McCoig.
Katherine Chibah holds regular surgeries for her local constituents, as well as organising educational events for young people throughout Hertford and Bishops Stortford to raise awareness and move the pay gap forward. The interview began with Chibah in her home office in Enfield, and the atmosphere couldn’t have been friendlier.
For women across the globe, the gender pay gap remains the clearest and most dramatic example of economic inequality for women today. More than 40 years has passed since the 1970 Equal Pay Act and many are still fighting to close the gap. Women are earning 35 per cent less than their male counterparts, meaning they would have to work up until the age of 80 to earn the same as a males lifetime earnings. The Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion described the gender pay gap as “stubbornly persistent, given that the Equal Pay Act was introduced in 1970”.
Chibah’s house said a lot about her personality. Still tidying and placing everything in order, Chibah’s husband, Reiad welcomingly opened the door. Her chic modern yet messy dining room highlighted motherhood. With two daughters – seven-year-old Mimi and Lilah who is four – Chibah gave all her time to talk to me about her passion.
“I have become very motivated in the last few years, trying to get a fairer alternative, partly through working with children from a very deprived background. There’s a lot of wealth around, but it’s not going to the people that need it. I feel the issue of gender inequality, especially the pay gap, which will affect these youngsters massively if the issue doesn’t get resolved now.
“Knowing that we could have a fairer society drove me to stand”, says Chibah. “I strongly believe that the local residents deserve better, from cuts to the NHS, affordablehousing and of course equal pay”. Chibah’s confidence and ambition to drive forward campaigns for equality is remarkably calm, considering the recent outcome of the general election. But her attitude comes from working with these youngsters. There are real pockets of deprivation around which need to be addressed, Chibah says, “we want to show people that there’s a real alternative”.
The 41-year-old history graduate has worked for the Labour party for 20 years, and is under no illusion that the Tory-led government will make the nation face more pay gap issues. “The Conservatives aren’t willing to focus on helping the pay gap issue, still no more than one-fifth of the party are female MPs. In my opinion, they aren’t engaged with gender equality”. Chibah says, “The Labour party are willing to take the most action with equality, from equalising the pay gap to decreasing gender discrimination.
“The pay gap is hugely influenced by motherhood, as businesses feel a woman can become unreliable and incapable of producing their best work” Chibah says. The pay gap is far worse for women aged 40 plus, as there is a persistent “bonus pay” gain with age and seniority. The gender composition of the workforce has changed over the last buy priligy several decades, but the demands of both career and motherhood remain the same. Many jobs pay women less because businesses believe that they often choose specialties that require fewer hours and can accommodate family responsibilities.
According to Ariane Hegewisch, a study director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, pay gaps between men and women are often wider in high-paying occupations. Alongside Chibah’s work with young people, it is vital to make them aware so that the next generation can make a real difference.
It’s stressful for Chibah knowing that her two daughters may have to live in a society where the pay gap, as well as all other gender inequalities, could still be an issue as they grow up. Considering her political responsibility, Chibah willingly works outside of hours to generate as much change as possible. “A campaign I supported last month was UKtrans, where I pledged alongside many other MPs, that transgender individuals should be treated fairly by the law. I like to work with as many different gender inequality issues as possible. Knowing that I have done all I can helps me sleep at night”.
It is inevitable to comment on Chibah’s passion for the Labour government. Across her hallway wall are several photos with Tony Blair, and even some with his wife, Cherie. She says, “Labour first ever won the vote in 1945. My great-grandfather used to tell stories about the incredible moment that Sir Winston Churchill was defeated by Clement Attlee’s Labour Party. The Labour landslide victory ushered in the welfare state and the National Health Service”. She hopes that the next election will be in Labour’s favor, and they will steer to stop the gender pay gap.
“Section 78 of the Equality Act 2010 was passed this year, but it will still take a few years for anything to become apparent”, says Chibah. It’s a real struggle to move forward as companies aren’t willing to share the wage difference. Supermarket chain Tesco, is one of few to publish gender pay gap data, which averages at 1% gender pay difference in comparison to the 10% national average.
Gloria de Piero, Labour’s shadow minister for women, has led the campaign for section 78 and has worked many campaigns with Chibah. As women they both have strong views on female ideology, and the importance of closing the gap shines through in a conversation Chibah recollects. She says, “Labour passed this law in 2010 but the Conservatives and Lib Dems ditched it. I remember Gloria saying, ‘Well that’s five wasted years when we could have seen real progress to close the pay gap’”.
This significant pay gap is more than just statistics – it has real life consequences. Women occupy half the workforce, but companies still think it is not a problem to pay them less due to motherhood, history and politics. Chibah says, “Politics is very unpredictable – more than it has been for years”. That’s why Chibah is campaigning to close the gender pay gap.
“Women belong in the kitchen”
The highest paid female chefs to date – what are they worth in the kitchen?
Mary Berry – £15 million – The 78-year-old celebrity chef has been a TV superstar for only the past three years, but since then she has published more than 60 best-selling recipe books.
Nigella Lawson – £15 million – Lawson is not only an avid food entertainer, but also a food writer and esteemed journalist.
Rachael Ray– £12 million – Today, she has four Food Network programs, including Tasty Travels and $40 a Day.
Paula Deen– £3 million – Deen, the queen of Southern cuisine, serves up butter-drenched casseroles and motherly charm on two Food Network shows.
Thanks for reading,