[Brussels, 2 November, 2015] From 2 November to 31 December women work for free! The European Women’s Lobby (EWL), marks the European Equal Pay Day - 2 November - by calling for more stringent measures to guarantee equal pay for women now. “60 years have lapsed since equal pay was guaranteed in the founding treaties of the European Union. Three generations of women since then continue to earn less than men. This is not good enough as women continue to be taken for granted” says Joanna Maycock, EWL Secretary General.
The gender pay gap is now on average 16.3% across Europe, an increase of 0.3 percentage points since last year which is the equivalent of 59 days of free labour in paid work not counting the amount of unpaid work spent on domestic chores and care. “But the gender pay gap has many hidden consequences; it impacts on women’s life-long earnings for which the gap is 41.4% and pensions currently at a gap of 39%. This means that women are penalised throughout their lives for the things they do to keep society functioning, such as caring for children, dependent family members and the elderly. In sectors where they work, the value given to the essential work they carry out is also undervalued.” continued Ms Maycock. “This must change. We demand equal pay NOW” she said
The gender pay gap is often described as “complex” combing many aspects that cut across women and men’s perceived stereotypical roles in society. More stringent measures are necessary, including specific targets to close the gap by 2020. In the context of the European Semester, the EWL calls on the European Commission to recommend to all Member States to reduce the gender pay gap by 5-10% each year and to report on the measures taken and the implementation of existing measures such as the recommendation on transparency in wage composition.
The gender pay gap is the tip of the iceberg symbolising persistent gender inequalities in Europe. The European Institute on Gender Equality (EIGE) indexshows that equality between women and men is stagnating at a mere 52% in eight areas of life. The index offers a wealth of data to monitor progress on gender equality, including in the area of pay. In a recent Eurobarometer, 94% of respondents believe that equality between women and men should be the utmost priority in Europe. There can be no more excuses, the women of Europe demand equal pay NOW.