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By Jona Bola

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Oct. 19) – Women in Fiji are paid significantly less than men, a new study has found.

There is a significant inequality in favour of male wages, said the report.

The report, "Analysing Wage Differential by Gender Using an Earning Function Approach: Further Evidence from a Small Developing Economy," was prepared by University of the South Pacific associate professor of economics Mahendra Reddy and temporary research assistant in economics Bhuneshwani Reddy.

"The gender variable, which is significant at 5 percent level, indicates that females' remuneration is lower than males by an average amount of $2663.70," it said. "This find is quiet worrying, not only because of the difference but because of the size of the difference."

The study found that the labour market's tendency to reward workers based on qualification and education implied that education could be an escape route from unemployment.

"Therefore knowing that the labour market is sensitive to higher education, the long term strategy to raise people's income would be to ensure that they pursue postsecondary education," it said. "For this to happen in a developing society where a large proportion of households are earning below poverty line income, the Government must promote the facilitation of education of its subjects by providing financial assistance, whether it is in the form of scholarships, fellowships or student loans."

It noted that the finding came as a surprise given the Government's efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

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