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Indigenous women denounce inequality in the application of their rights.

ILO Report: Gender inequality in access to employment and salary income continues

08 March, 2023 | Ricardo Changala

A new March 8th shows that although great mobilizations, demands and proposals of women are being made all over the planet, profound and sustainable changes have not yet been achieved.

If the general situation of women in the world exhibits multiple limitations for equal access to fundamental human rights, for indigenous women, the gap between rights and reality is even deeper.

They face various forms of violations of individual and collective human rights, not only civil, political and socio-economic, but also other forms of violence such as those derived from traditional practices, sexual violence, trafficking, domestic violence and gender-based murders. As Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the Special Rapporteur stated in 2015: “To protect the rights of indigenous women, both a paradigm shift and the formulation of a multidimensional approach are needed.” [1]

Recently, the International Labor Organization has published a short but powerful material, in which, based on the application of a new indicator on the labor gap, it is stated that, in general, the estimates point to serious difficulties faced by women when finding work, especially in less developed countries.[2]

It is noted that, in 2022, the global employment gap stood at about 473 million people, which is equivalent to a labor gap rate of 12.3 percent, representing the share of those who would like a job who are out of work.

For women, the labor gaps are much higher in the so-called ”developing world” (where most of the Indigenous Peoples live) reaching 24.9 and 17.4 percent in low- and lower-middle-income groups, respectively. For comparison, the corresponding rates for men are 16.6 and 11.0 percent, significantly lower than the rates for women.

The situation is also worrying in terms of income.

In 2019, for every dollar men earn in labor income, women earned only 51 cents. In low- and lower-middle-income countries, the gender disparity in labor income is considerably worse, with women earning 33 cents and 29 cents on the dollar, respectively. In contrast, in high- and upper-middle-income countries, the relative labor income of women reaches 58 and 56 cents respectively per dollar earned by men.

Gender inequality is a global reality. For example, in Germany, in February 2023, the Federal Labour Court ruled on wage discrimination between a female employee and her male colleague, finding that the difference in treatment at the company could not be justified by invoking the fact that the male colleague’s higher basic salary was not due to sex, but to the fact that he had negotiated a higher salary.[3]

But as the ILO study shows, the differences are much deeper not only in certain countries but in relation to certain groups, such as Indigenous Peoples and, among them, women. Without structural changes in gender relations, there will be no profound and sustainable changes towards the realization of all human rights for all people.

This is what leads anthropologist Ria Sagato to affirm that ”No revolution has ever reached its destination until today because it lacks a tile that goes down, that underlies its project and that is patriarchy.” [4]


[1] UN, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of indigenous peoples, A/HRC/30/41, August 6, 2015.

[2] OIT, Spotlight on Work Statistics n°12, New data shine light on gender gaps in the labor market, March, 2023, https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—dgreports/—stat/documents/publication/wcms_870519.pdf

[3] The judgment can be found at https://www.bundesarbeitsgericht.de/sitzungsergebnis/8-azr-450-21/

[4] Conference given at the International Feminist Meeting 2023, on March 5, 2023 in the city of Madrid, Spain.