Wednesday

29th Mar 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.

'Unhappy' day as UK delivers Brexit letter

European Council chief Donald Tusk said that "damage control" starts for the EU, as British PM Theresa May has invoked Article 50 nine months after the UK voted to leave the bloc.

Interview

Let's not lecture Trump, says top German MP

Europeans need to propose "projects of common interest" to the US president to preserve "Western unity" on Russia, Norbert Roettgen, the chair of Bundestag's foreign affairs committee said.

News in Brief

  1. UK delivered its Article 50 letter to the EU
  2. Support for Germany's anti-EU party fading
  3. Turkish intelligence not welcome in Germany
  4. US senate approves Montenegro’s Nato bid
  5. Scottish MPs give go ahead to seek referendum
  6. Uber pulls out of Denmark over new taxi-regulation
  7. EU court validates sanctions on Russia's Rosneft
  8. Luxembourg to team up with Ireland in Apple tax appeal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The Idealist QuarterlyCan Progressive Stories Survive Our Post-Truth Era? After-Work Discussion on 6 April
  2. ACCAG20 Citizens Want 'Big Picture' Tax Policymaking, According to Global Survey
  3. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  4. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  5. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  6. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  8. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  9. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  10. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  12. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans