The gender pay gap might seem like an individual problem — of a man simply earning more than a woman because of merit, experience, or some other legitimate factor —  until you look at the data.

The gender pay gap occurs worldwide and in nearly all industries and professions, regardless of objective factors that should influence income, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Globally, women earn on average just 68% of what men are paid for the same work, and just 40% on average in countries with the least gender parity, the WEF notes.

At the current rate of progress, it’ll take an estimated 257 years to close the gap and achieve pay equity worldwide, the WEF found. And the COVID-19 pandemic has made things worse by disproportionately impacting women in the economic sphere. In fact, research suggests that the gender pay gap will widen by 5% because of the pandemic.

“Achieving real gender equality — in law, in practice, in the home, and in the economy — is a challenge that this generation must rise to,” says Aaron Holtz, director for gender equality and inclusion at Global CItizen. “To achieve the UN's Global Goals and to reap the benefits of a more equitable and fair world, society needs to put more value behind the talents and contributions of women and girls.”

The majority of countries worldwide do have laws in place to ensure equal pay for equal work — but these laws are not always implemented appropriately. Meanwhile, the legal requirement for equality is only part of the issue.

The gender pay gap is systemic: it reflects the widespread misogyny that occurs in patriarchal societies where men’s contributions are valued more than women’s — even when fulfilling the same role — coupled with a cultural norm that directs women and girls towards lower paying and lower valued occupations .

Read the full article about gender pay gap by Joe McCarthy at Global Citizen.