The majority of women in the workforce earn less than men for performing the same work — and a new report found that for health and care workers, the discrepancy is even more stark.

Women health and care workers face a larger gender pay gap than in other economic sectors, according to “The Gender Pay Gap in the Health and Care Sector,” jointly published by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday.

The most comprehensive global analysis of gender pay inequalities yet found that women in the health and care sector earn an average of 24% less than male peers, in addition to the preexisting gender pay gap.

Globally, women earn 68% of what men make for the same work and just 40% on average in countries with the least gender equality.

“The health and care sector has endured low pay in general, stubbornly large gender pay gaps, and very demanding working conditions,” said Manuela Tomei, director of the Conditions of Work and Equality Department at the ILO.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted that women make up 70% of frontline health care workers globally. Due to the public health crisis, women health care workers’ roles in keeping families, societies, and economies together became even more clear, Tomei explained.

Countries’ systemic barriers are to blame for the unequal pay for women's health and care, Jim Campbell, WHO director of health workforce, explained. Governments, employers, and workers must apply the evidence and analysis in the report to urgent action, he advised.

A stronger health and care workforce is crucial to a sustainable recovery, according to Tomei. Access to quality health care and services can only be possible with more supportive working conditions including fairer wages for health and care workers who are disproportionately women.

“The time has arrived for decisive policy action, including the necessary policy dialogue between institutions,” Tomei said.

Read the full article about the gender pay gap by Leah Rodriguez at Global Citizen.