Female wages in the Egyptian textiles and clothing industry: low pay and discrimination

El-Haddad, Amirah
External Publications (2011)

in: Economic Research Forum, Working Paper 633

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This paper analyzes the gender wage gap in the Egyptian textiles and clothing sector. Women receive just 72 percent of the hourly wage of men. This pay gap arises partly as women join the industry at a young age (which accounts for 40% of the wage gap), are concentrated in the lower paid occupations (14% of the gap), and in smaller firms (6%). Past occupational allocative segregation and discrimination drive the current gendered composition of the sector. There is also strong evidence for valuative discrimination, though women are favored in returns in exporting firms and in most occupational categories except engineers. Legislation to ensure true freedom of association, a more encompassing equal pay act, minimum wage legislation coupled with a right to information act, and trade linked schemes are all viable steps towards eradicating wage gaps, but all require further policy research. Women themselves must struggle to change legislation, ensure enforcement and alter rigid preconceptions and deeply embedded cultural and social forces that continue to encumber women and reinforce discrimination.

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