Bahrain - A proposal for rules ensuring equal pay for men and women in Bahrain’s private sector has been tabled by a gender equality expert.
Female government staff already receive the same pay as their male colleagues, but some in the private sector claim they receive less than men, Supreme Council for Women adviser Bahija Al Dailami told the GDN.
She explained that female civil servants enjoyed the same salaries as men due to a pay scale issued by the Civil Service Bureau (CSB), which does not distinguish between genders.
However, she said more research was needed to identify whether a pay gap in the private sector was widespread and, if so, suggested it should be tackled through new guidelines.
“Every private organisation currently has its own (pay) system,” Ms Al Dailami, an adviser on inclusion of women’s needs in development at the SCW, told the GDN.
“In the government sector, they all follow the CSB guidelines.
“When the CSB releases a new guideline, the whole government sector has to oblige.
“In the private sector some people say there is a pay gap, but we don’t have evidence.
“We are sure about equal pay in the government, but we need more research in the private sector.”
She made her comments on the sidelines of the Equal Opportunity in Business and Society Conference (EOBSC), which started yesterday at the Downtown Rotana, Manama.
Ms Al Dailami explained that private sector companies were currently not required to pay men and women equally, but had already adopted the policy regardless.
“Some banks actually do have a culture where they do provide equal opportunities and equity,” said Ms Al Dailami.
“When we visited them, they did in fact have a committee for equal opportunities.
“Some banks don’t and there is a culture where a man makes more than a woman. (In those companies) the women are quiet about it, so it became a reality.”
However, she stressed some private organisations had expressed a willingness to address the disparity after it was highlighted.
“We went into their offices and identified problems and issues,” she said.
“We have developed an awareness, which allowed many things to change.
“The decision makers in these organisations became aware that there are in fact things that needed to be changed in their systems.”
Meanwhile, Ms Al Dailami stressed the importance of education and awareness in ensuring there is no gender pay divide.
“Education is very important because those who are in university currently are those who will later work in banks and in the private sector,” she explained.
“So if we are able to bring awareness and educate these students on the issues, while instilling these values in them, we can then apply it.”
The two-day EOBSC event, organised by Ahlia University in collaboration with London’s Brunel University, ends today.
It aims to raise awareness of gender equality and showcase advances in female empowerment in Bahrain.
During the conference Ms Al Dailami paid tribute to Ahlia University for being the first private university to form an equal opportunity committee, saying she hoped similar committees would be formed in all educational institutions.
Labour and Social Development Ministry Labour Affairs Under-Secretary Sabah Al Doseri, who opened the conference yesterday, said the issue remained a priority for the government.
“The Kingdom of Bahrain has worked on providing opportunities for women to take development responsibilities and to work side by side with men, to achieve progress and prosperity in all sectors of society,” he said.
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