Workshop sets precedent for gender statistics on the work of women and men in the Pacific

The governments of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) have for the first time created country statistical summaries and analysis disaggregated by gender.

The summaries, using data based on work and gross earnings collected in national social security systems, were produced as part of a workshop coordinated by the Pacific Community’s (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 SPC’s 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 funded by Australia’s Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (Pacific Women) program, through a 5 years partnership with SPC on the Progressing Gender Equality in Pacific Island Countries (PGEP) initiative.

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.’