UNITED NATIONS, United States — Oscar winner Patricia Arquette on Monday helped launch a campaign at the United Nations to address the gender pay gap as Iceland said it would become the first country in the world to enforce wage equity.
"Women can’t wait anymore," the American actress said at an event held during the annual UN women’s conference, the Commission on the Status of Women.
On a global average, women only make 77 cents for every dollar men earn.
A recent study by the International Labour Organization warned that without stronger measures, it will take 70 years to close the gender wage gap.
Arquette, who won an Oscar for her role in "Boyhood," applauded Iceland for its ground-breaking move to end pay inequality, saying it "will be really interesting to see what happens in that country."
Iceland’s parliament will soon adopt legislation requiring employers to show that they are offering equal pay.
Iceland’s Social Affairs and Equality Minister Thorsteinn Vinglundsson said the measures could eradicate pay inequality by 2022 in his country.
"I don’t think any employee needs to work for a company that discriminates. I don’t think any manager in a company wants to discriminate," said Vinglundsson.
Olympic gold medalist and soccer star Abby Wambach said women face pay inequality in every field, but that this discrimination was blatant in sports.
"Looking across the aisle, to my counterparts – Kobe Bryant, Peyton Manning – they are having a much different conversation with themselves in their retirement than I.
"I have to worry about paying my bills and enough has to be enough," Wambach told journalists.
The two-week women’s conference at the United Nations is focusing on women’s economic empowerment in the workplace, including pay inequality and paid parental leave.
UN Women executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka called the pay gap "daylight robbery," saying generations of women had been robbed of income, future security and just reward.
"Each year, they work three months more than men for equivalent pay," she said.
The United Nations has set a global goal of achieving gender equality by 2030.
Women’s rights are under fresh assault worldwide, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned earlier during the opening ceremony of the conference.
US President Donald Trump’s "global gag rule" cutting funding to groups that offer abortion services and Russia’s decision to ease punishment for domestic violence are casting a long shadow on the women’s conference.
"Globally, women are suffering new assaults on their safety and dignity," Guterres said.
"Women’s rights are human rights – and attacks on women are attacks on all of us. This is why we have to respond together," he added.
Trump, who declared himself opposed to abortion during his campaign, signed a decree just days into his presidency barring US funding for foreign non-governmental groups if their work touches on abortion.
A few weeks later, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill that reduces penalties for domestic violence to a fine instead of a jail term, if the assault is a first offense and does not cause serious injury. — AFP