In mid-August, Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone made headlines after she was out of consideration for a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film, all for allegedly asking for equal pay as the film’s male counterpart. Deepika was dropped from consideration for Sanjay Leela Bansali’s Baiju Bawra as she asked for the same fee as her husband, actor Ranveer Singh, who has been roped in as the titular character. But this isn’t unique - Deepika Padukone has been consistently raising her voice against the gender wage gap in Bollywood, and at a 2019 event had gone on to even address the issue, where Times of India quoted her saying, “I know my track record and what I’m worth. I don’t think I’ll be able to live with the thought knowing that I have been a part of a film, had the same creative contribution or bringing the same value to a film, but being underpaid."
While Deepika Padukone has been raising her voice against the wage gap, the pay disparity is more than a Bollywood only problem. Looking at one of the other professions glamorized in India, sports, also has a huge pay gap. Hockey, India’s national sport the pay gap has a minimum ten-fold wage gap between the two genders’ salaries, found a Feminism in India report. The value placed on women’s sport is often lower, resulting in inadequate resources and unequal wages and prizes. An Indian squash player, Dipika Pallikal refused to play at the National Squash Championship in Kerala in 2015, saying that due to differential prize money for men and women for the same sport: An India Today report learnt that men’s champion would get Rs 1,20,000 and women would get Rs 50,000.
According to World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021 ranked India 140 out of 156 countries when it came to equal pay. India has slipped 28 places from 2020, becoming the third-worst performer in South Asia. The reported also noted that the decline took place partly due to n the economic participation and opportunity subindex, albeit to a lesser extent, the report said India’s gender gap on this dimension widened by 3 percent this year, leading to a 32.6 percent gap closed to date.
Most of the decline occurred on the political empowerment subindex, where India regressed 13.5 percentage points, with a significant decline in the number of women ministers (from 23.1 percent in 2019 to 9.1 percent in 2021). Further, the estimated earned income of women in India is only one-fifth of men’s, which puts the country among the bottom 10 globally on this indicator, found the report.
The report also found that in some instances like India, only 22.3% of women participated in the labour market, translating to
a gender gap of 72%.
The report also found that gender gaps are equally large or more pronounced in segments of the job market requiring higher skills. The regional average share of professional and technical roles taken by women is 32.6%. In India, only 29.2% of technical roles are held by women.
“India is the third-worst performer in the region, having closed 62.5 per cent of its gap. Because of its large population, India’s performance has a substantial impact on the region’s overall performance," the report said. The report stated that India, home to 0.65 billion women, has widened its gender gap from almost 66.8 percent one year ago to 62.5 per cent this year.
While Deepika Padukone’s voice to an important issue brings it to light, India still has a long way to go to even bridge the wage gap.