Left to Right: Kim Robertson, Bill Joseph, Deputy Administrator RMI SSA; Lara Studzinski, Director SPC MRO.
The governments of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), using data based on work and gross earnings collected in national social security systems, have for the first time, created country statistical summaries and analysis disaggregated by gender. The summaries were produced as part of a workshop coordinated by the Pacific Communities (SPC) Social Development Division.
Despite notable progress over the past 20 years, global statistics show persistent inequalities between women and men on access to the labour market, unemployment and conditions at work. The Pacific region has relatively low rates of women’s labour force participation, and women are more likely to be in vulnerable employment as own-account business operators or unpaid workers for the household or family enterprise.
Speaking at the workshop opening, the Director of the Pacific Community Micronesia Regional Office, Ms. Lara Studzinski, said ‘This workshop sets a precedent for gender statistics on the work of women and men in the Pacific region, using administrative data from social security systems across the three jurisdictions. This annual data tells us about the work that men and women do and their average gross earnings.’
The workshop was supported by Australia’s Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (Pacific Women) program, which has committed up to AU$320 million over 10 years in 14 Pacific Islands Forum member countries. The program aims to improve opportunities for the political, economic and social advancement of Pacific women, with one outcome specifically focusing on expanding economic opportunities for women to earn an income and accumulate economic assets. The Australian Embassy’s Deputy Head of Mission in FSM, Ms. Eliza Woolcock said the valuable evidence on employment levels and gender wage gaps will assist governments develop and implement programs and policies tailored to increasing gender diversity and reducing the gender earnings gap in a number of sectors and industries.
Mr. Francky Ilai, FSM’s Deputy Administrator, Social Security Administration, said that his usual focus was on producing statistics about the total amount of contributions received, and the amount and type of benefits paid out. ‘I had never thought about doing this kind of analysis or how interesting it would be; in the FSM women make up 40% of social security contributors and on average earn 12% less than men: that means that for every $1.00 earned by a man, a woman earns 0.88₵. Since 1997 the number of men contributing to social security has decreased by 15%, while the number of women has slowly but steadily increased.’
The workshop conducted by the Pacific Community and support to finalize publications is part of the Progressing Gender Equality in Pacific Island Countries (PGEP) initiative. PGEP is funded by the Government of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as part of the program Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development.
For more information visit www.pacificwomen.org
Rajan Sami, Writer and Communications Specialist | email: [email protected]