By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
A UNITED Nation’s report has revealed a nearly 30 percent income disparity between men and women, ranking The Bahamas 75th on its gender inequality index.
The 2018 Statistical Update report for the UN’s Human Development Index put the estimated gross national income per capita for men at $31,397, with women taking home $22,156. The estimated average income for women is more than $4,000 less than the country’s gross national income of $26,681.
When contacted about the figures yesterday, activist Alicia Wallace called on the government to improve public access to national statistics.
She said women’s work is undervalued, and called for consideration of linkages between the gender wage gap and the poverty rate.
“The gender wage gap has been glossed over for a long time,” Ms Wallace said, “largely due to lack of access to data, but also because of sensitivity around income and workplace culture that treats compensation as private information and discussing it as unprofessional.
“This makes national statistics even more critical to advocacy at all levels and with all actors, including the government and employers, to our work in addressing it as a gender equality issue.”
She continued: “Women’s work is undervalued in the public and private spheres, and highlighting this income disparity is not only key to gender equality in the workplace, but part of the work we must undertake specifically to challenge the gender division of labour that exists in households where women do all or most of the domestic and care work.
“We need to make connections between the gender wage gap and the poverty rate as well as overall economic performance which is impacted by income and purchasing power and does not account for -- in measurement tools like GDP – a significant amount of unpaid work that underwrites the paid economy.”
Meanwhile, the Bahamas placed 54th overall in the UN’s Human Development Index, which grouped the country among those with “very high human development.”
The country topped the list of Caribbean nations but dropped one spot over last year’s ranking, switching places with the Eastern European country of Belarus in the survey of 189 countries and territories.
The country stood at 58 in 2015.
The index targets three basic dimensions of human development: the ability to lead a long and healthy life, measured by life expectancy at birth; the ability to acquire knowledge, measured by mean years of schooling and expected years of schooling; and the ability to achieve a decent standard of living, measured by gross national income per capita.
It listed the country’s life expectancy as 75.8 years.
The report’s Gender Inequality Index highlights women’s empowerment, or lack thereof, across three dimensions: reproductive health, empowerment and the labour market.
The country’s maternal mortality ratio, which indicates deaths per 100,000 live births, stands at 80.
The adolescent birth rate represents the number of births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19, and was listed by the UN as 26.7.
The percentage of men and women aged 25 and older with at least some secondary education were 87.4 and 87.6 respectively. While labour force statistics show 82 percent of men aged 15 and older are working or actively looking for work, over 70 percent of women in that same demographic.
Tracking population trends, 82.9 percent of the country was listed as living in areas classified as urban. Urban population is based on the criteria used by each country, the report noted.
The Bahamas’ expected years of schooling stood at 12.8, while the mean years were recorded as 11.1.
Norway, Switzerland and Australia all retained their rank as the top three countries, while South Sudan, Central African Republic and Niger held the lowest scores.
Of the 33 countries from Latin America and the Caribbean region, the Bahamas was only surpassed by Chile, 44, and Argentina, 47.
The Human Development Report also includes three other composite indices: the Inequality-adjusted HDI discounts the HDI according to the extent of inequality; the Gender Development Index compares female and male HDI values; and the Multidimensional Poverty Index measures non-income dimensions of poverty.
Based on available data, the country’s annual HDI grew by 0.17 percent between 2000 and 2010, and by 0.32 per cent between 2010 and 2017.
The UN report comes on the heels of the country’s state review by the UN’s expert committee on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in October.
In its concluding observations, the committee highlighted deep rooted patriarchal attitudes and discriminatory stereotypes about the societal and familial roles of men and women.
It furthered these attitudes were reflected in the insufficient public awareness and debate on women’s issues; adding that the state had not taken sustained measures to modify or eliminate discriminatory stereotypes - which are a root cause of violence against women.