Tuesday

27th Jun 2017

EU launches gender gap awareness campaign

Women earn an average of 17.4 percent less than men across the EU's 27 member states, with the greatest gender pay difference seen in Estonia, EU statistics released ahead of international women's day show.

Part of a campaign to raise awareness of a situation that has changed little in recent years, EU studies show the discrepancy is largely due to an undervaluation of women's work, stereotyping and problems with balancing work and private life.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Women account for just a quarter of government ministers in the EU (Photo: wikipedia)

The situation is most acute in Estonia, where men on average earn almost a third (30.3%) more, followed by Austria, Slovakia, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Cyprus and Germany.

At the other end of the scale, the pay gap is lowest in Italy (4.4%), Malta (5.2%) and Poland (7.5%). However, these countries also show relatively low participation of women in the workforce.

"Tackling [the situation] requires action at all levels and a commitment from everyone concerned, from employers and trade unions to national authorities and every citizen," said EU social affairs commissioner Vladimir Spidla.

The pay gap means that women are at greater risk of poverty in later life with less accrued pension over the years they have worked. Some 21 percent of women aged over 65 risk poverty. This compares to 16 percent of men in a similar situation.

Fighting the recession

Pointing to the current economic crisis, the commissioner indicated that while women are most likely to be affected by the global downturn and occupying most of the part-time and lower-paid jobs, by engaging more women, the workplace could help the EU emerge from the recession more quickly.

"Discrimination produces inefficiency," said Mr Spidla adding "It is precisely during times of crises that we should be most active."

The commissioner pointed to a study of 15,000 small and medium-sized companies in Finland that found that those run by women were up to 10 percent more efficient than those run by men. A recent French study indicated that companies with more women on their boards tended to perform better on the stock exchange.

But despite these findings, big companies and banks tend to remain largely male territories when it comes to the top jobs. National central banks in the member states are all headed by a male governor, while women only make up 17 percent of the key decision-making bodies. In big businesses, women's participation is even lower, with men accounting for almost 90 percent of board members.

As International Women's Day arrives on 8 March, the latest EU statistics also show that women are also much less represented in politics, clocking in a 31 percent of the European Parliament's deputies and 24 percent of national law-makers. In national governments, they make up around a quarter of ministers.

Focus

China's 16+1 foray into Central and Eastern Europe

Half a decade after it was launched, the network of cooperation between China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries has brought uneven economical and political fruits so far.

News in Brief

  1. French court orders water for Calais migrants
  2. Romania names new PM
  3. Merkel opens up to gay marriage
  4. Seasoned finance minister takes over Dutch coalition talks
  5. British PM closes government deal with Northern Irish party
  6. Merkel on collision course with US at G20 summit
  7. Schulz outlines German election strategy, hits out at Merkel
  8. Berlusconi's party sees comeback in Italian local votes

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan Statin Therapy Interfere With a Physically Active Lifestyle?
  3. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  4. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  5. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  6. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  7. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  8. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  9. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  10. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  11. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  12. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?