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The Gender Pay Gap must come to an end in Europe!

Joint article by PES Women President Zita Gurmai and PES President Sergei Stanishev

On March 8th we commemorate the International Women’s Day. 

This date is the occasion to remember and celebrate the fights that in the last century culminated in the recognition of the same rights for women and men in Europe. However, even though the mobilization of brave women – and men – in the past was crucial for our generation to grow in a society where equal rights are established in principle, this does not mean the fight is over.

For instance, we still see how the access to the labour market is far from equitable – with female employment at only 62%, while male employment reaches 75%. The consequences of the crisis we are currently going through also affect differently women and men; the austerity proned by conservatives results in stronger cuts in the public sector – a sector that employs and primarily benefits women. Last but not the least, even though women account for 60% of university graduates, the Gender Pay Gap still heights at 16.2% in Europe today. This means that in order to earn the same salary a male colleague gets in a year, a woman must work an extra two months – for free!

It is now our turn to make sure that equality is a reality and that gender discrimination is no longer tolerated!

This is why, while we celebrate Women’s Day this week, the Party of European Socialists will be calling for concrete steps to tackle the Gender Pay Gap (GPG) in Europe. 

Even if laws in the EU forbid gender pay discrimination, there are still breaches, as the 16.2% difference between women and men’s salaries confirms. In this sense, the PES proposes:

  • the introduction of a Gender Pay Gap Audit to check whether all Member States engage on reducing this gap;
  • a progressive and measurable reduction of the gender pay gap for all age groups by 2% per year and per Member States until equality in wages has been reached;
  • improving the monitoring of the implementation of anti-discrimination and gender equality legislation, including through the application of clear and dissuasive sanctions, both at national and at European level;
  • Commissioner for Gender Equality and Women’s Rights fully engaged on the issue of gender pay gap by 2014.

By now people have seen how right-wing politicians treat their fair demands for gender equality – conservatives drown in fallacious excuses and use the false pretext that the economic crisis does not leave space for guaranteeing everyone the same rights. On the contrary, we say that this crisis has indisputably a gender dimension: it is gendered in its causes and in its effects and if we don’t acknowledge it, we’re never going to solve it. 

On International Women’s Day, the PES and PES Women will reiterate the engagement to closing the gender pay gap and to empowering women all across Europe. We will take up this challenge so that in a few years time on the 8th March people can celebrate the end of the gender pay gap as one of the fights won in the past.

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