Someone asked me the other day that how come our Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports in her statement at the recent APEC Forum on Women in St Petersburg, Russia stated that Brunei women ranked 3rd highest in the world in terms of pay. He said that he thought there will be other countries earning more and that women in Brunei may not be earning that high as there is not enough of them in the top echelon either in government or private sector. He asked me to clarify as I was at the Forum too.
What the Deputy Minister said in St Petersburg was this: "In terms of female receiving equal pay, the global gender report, Brunei Darussalam ranks twenty-ninth (29th) and in Estimated Earned Income we rank third (3rd) in the world."
The Brunei Times headlined the news "Brunei women third highest paid in the world" on 4th July 2012. The last I checked the internet, this headline went round the world.
The Global Gender Gap Report 2011 which you can get from The World Economic Forum website listed Brunei as 3rd in Estimated earned income (PPP US$) with women making an estimated income of about US$38,656 per annum which is indeed the third highest with only women in Luxembourg earning US$59,570 and Norway US$49,498 beating Brunei.
Even though Brunei women's pay was 3rd highest, the calculation for 3rd placing was not based on the amount of US$38,656. What the Report did was to rank the female pay to male pay ratio, and the Report also capped the pay at US$40,000 if the pay exceeded US$40,000 for either male or female. Thus we can see that Brunei women to men pay ratio was 0.97 and this was ranked 3rd. This pay ratio can be misleading too. Burundi is ranked 13th simply because their women and their men's pay is very close but at a very low rate of US$349 to US$437 giving them a ratio of 0.80.
What does this all mean? The ranking itself does give us in Brunei some bragging rights and it does also indicate there is no discrimination against women.
Though we have to look this in the context of the other ranking where we ranked 27th in terms of wage equality for similar work between men and women. There is some discrimination there.
The amount of US$38,656 is calculated based on GDP and the number of women in the population. Though if you were to calculate it in Brunei dollars is about B$50,250 which is roughly equal to about B$4,000 a month which is about a B3 salary scale for women in the government.
The whole argument on this would have to centre on the argument on the calculation of GDP. If you have been a student of economics, you would know the pros and cons of GDP calculation. Anyway, please read the Global Gender Gap Report 2011 if you want to know more which you can get from here.