‘Gender discrimination in Ghana’s labour market needs attention’
There are domestic and international laws and conventions that generally frown on all forms of discrimination, some of which relate to employment and wages.
Chapter 5, Article 17 (2) of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana clearly forbids discrimination in all forms on the grounds of “race, place of origin, political opinion, colour, religion, creed, gender, social or economic status”.
Additionally, Ghana’s Labour Act of 2003 (Act 651) categorically states that discrimination against a person with regard to the employment or conditions of service by virtue of an individual’s or worker’s association with a trade union is said to be an unfair labour practice.
Also, the two International Labour Organisation (ILO) Core Conventions of equal remuneration for work of equal value (Convention No. 100, 1951) and employment and occupational discrimination (Convention No. 111, 1958) which Ghana has fully ratified are a reflection of international concern on the issue of discrimination.
Over the past three decades, various researches conducted on gender discrimination with regard to labour issues have been very common.
In Ghana, issues related to gender discrimination have usually been deliberated on by people with background in Sociology and economists.
Labour market discrimination happens when two employees (man and woman) with the same qualification, experience and training apply for a position, but as a result of gender discrimination, the man is selected over the woman during hiring or recruitment.
Some employers do that because they know that if the woman is selected, she may leave the job as a result of marriage or maternity leave.
Such discriminations may also occur on the premise of some individual characteristics such as ethnicity and religion, which are not related to the workers’ productivity.
Labour market discrimination mostly affects women as they face a lot of barriers and obstacles in getting to the top of many organisations or career path. Equal treatment should be given to both men and women. Women who are duly qualified should get access to jobs, just like their male counterparts. Women should receive equal wage for work done and should not be discriminated against on the grounds of gender.
If stakeholders do not give the needed attention to addressing the ideological difference between men and women, the situation will continue to weaken all the efforts in addressing labour market discrimination in Ghana and other parts of the world.
According to the Ghana Living Standard Survey (GLSS) 2014, employment in the formal sector keeps decreasing whereas the rate in the informal sector keeps increasing, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditionalities and the freeze on the recruitment of workers in the public sector forcing a lot of the country’s labour force into informal employment.
The issue of gender discrimination could be tackled only if anti-discrimination laws, which bars employers from discriminating against other workers on the labour market when it comes to recruitment, are enforced so that women are not discriminated against in the labour market.
Again, women should be made to enjoy the three-month maternity leave as stipulated in the Constitution of Ghana and the Labour Act. Again, unions should ensure that all employees enjoy equal pay for equal work done irrespective of their gender. The ILO also calls on all employers to adhere to the International Labour Standards and avoid gender discrimination.
The writer is the National Youth Secretary, Public Services Workers’ Union of tuc