Man and woman in uniform in front of industrial equipment.
Worldwide, women make only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, creating a lifetime of income inequality between men and women.
Photo:ILO / Marcel Crozet

Equal pay for work of equal value

The International Equal Pay Day, celebrated on 18 September, represents the longstanding efforts towards the achievement of equal pay for work of equal value. It further builds on the United Nations commitment to human rights and against all forms of discrimination, including discrimination against women and girls.

Across all regions, women are paid less than men, with the gender pay gap estimated at 23 per cent globally. Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls continues to be held back owing to the persistence of historical and structural unequal power relations between women and men, poverty and inequalities and disadvantages in access to resources and opportunities that limit women’s and girls’ capabilities. Progress on narrowing that gap has been slow. While equal pay for men and women has been widely endorsed, applying it in practice has been difficult.

In order to ensure that no one is left behind, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) address the need to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. Furthermore, the SDGs promote decent work and economic growth by seeking full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value. Mainstreaming of a gender perspective is crucial in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Achieving equal pay is an important milestone for human rights and gender equality. It takes the effort of the entire world community and more work remains to be done. The United Nations, including UN Women and the International Labour Organization (ILO) invites Members states and civil society, women’s and community-based organizations and feminist groups, as well as businesses and workers’ and employers’ organizations, to promote equal pay for work of equal value and the economic empowerment of women and girls.

Equal Pay International Coalition

The Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC) is led by the ILO, UN Women, and partners. The Coalition’s goal is to achieve equal pay for women and men everywhere. By bringing together a diverse set of actors with different areas of focus and expertise, EPIC supports governments, employers, workers, and their organizations to make concrete and coordinated progress towards this goal. EPIC is currently the only multi-stakeholder partnership working to reduce the gender pay gap at the global, regional and national levels.

Live Celebration

This year’s celebration will focus on the efforts of key labour market actors to ensure that equal pay remains central to pandemic responses worldwide and to fully recognize the contributions of women to COVID-19 recovery. The event aims to achieve a reinvigorated commitment to closing the gender pay gap across regions and sectors to build forward better from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The live event takes place on Friday, 17 September 2021
9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. ET, 15:00 – 16:30 CEST

Did you know?

  • Women earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn for work of equal value – with an even wider wage gap for women with children.
  • At this rate, it will take the next 257 years to close the global gender pay gap.
  • Women are concentrated in lower-paid, lower-skill work with greater job insecurity and under-represented in decision-making roles.
  • Women carry out at least two and a half times more unpaid household and care work than men.


Related Websites


"When men advocate for women, change comes ten times faster" says Oscar-winning actress Patricia Arquette to UN News as she joins the United Nations Equal Pay Platform of Champions. She continues by asking that we examine our own biases. Janitors are paid more than maids, jobs viewed to be for women pay less.

#Stoptherobbery is a campaign by UN Women that raises awareness of the gender pay gap. Globally, women only make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men for work of equal value, effectively being “robbed.” The campaign calls for equal pay and women’s economic empowerment as part of achieving full gender equality.

Over the two-day event, approximately 65 participants EPIC members, including representatives from governments, workers and employer organizations, civil society organizations, came together to understand the impact and challenges of implementing measures aimed at reducing the gender pay gap. #epic2030 


Portrait of a woman with men in the background.

Discrimination at work is a violation of a basic human right. Discrimination occurs on many different grounds, with women being particularly discriminated against with respect to their pay. One of the most important ways to redress this situation and achieve gender equality is through pay equity. Explore this ILO InfoStory for a greater understanding of pay equity and how it can be achieved.

A woman wearing a hardhat works at a construction site.

Realizing women’s economic empowerment requires transformative change so that prosperity is equitably shared and no one is left behind. The international community has made this commitment in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Every woman should enjoy her right to decent work. As a global champion for women’s empowerment, UN Women asks: What do we need to get there?

illustration of people with clock, calendar, to-do list and decorations

International days and weeks are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. We also mark other UN observances.