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Women Working 59 days for free; Shut the gender pay gap!

Today marks the third European Equal Pay Day, which symbolizes the day until which women would have to work the following year to earn the same wage as men earn in one year. PES Women first fought for the creation of this European Equal Pay Day through its 2007 campaign ‘Gender Pay Gap: shut it!’ but six years later the fight goes on.

This year, European women had to work 59 more days than men to get equal pay. In other words, women in Europe work 59 days for free!.

Despite the principle of equal pay for equal work, enshrined in the Treaties since EU’s Foundation the gender pay gap is still at 16.2% according to the latest figures and risks becoming ever wider with the crisis. Thus, there is still a clear need to raise awareness on this issue. We in PES Women have worked hard to establish the European Equal Pay Day, but now the hard work begins – closing the gap.

This is why PES Women has decided to campaign on this issue again in the run-up to the 2014 European Parliament elections. Rather than being something that can be postponed until the crisis is over, as Conservatives want you to believe, closing the Gender Pay Gap is a central part of how we overcome the economic crisis. A new approach of growth based on equality is what we need. 
The gender pay gap is not only a pure wage difference; it also reflects ongoing discrimination and inequalities in the labour market, which have intensified during the economic crisis. Different working patterns for women and men need to be carefully considered, such as part-time work, and career breaks linked to maternity and elderly care. All of which cumulates in further inequality when it comes to pensions. The problem of the ‘glass ceiling’ is also still prevalent, further exacerbating the pay gap.

Therefore, PES Women demands the establishment of a Commissioner for Gender Equality and Women’s Rights to be fully engaged in closing the gender pay gap as of 2014. This Commissioner would be a Special Representative for Gender Equality and Women’s Rights, ensuring that gender equality remain high on the European political agenda.

PES Women also calls for the introduction of Gender Pay Gap Audits to check whether all Member States engage in reducing the gender pay gap for all age groups by 2% per year and per Member States until equality in wages has been reached. 

In parallel, the EU, through this new Commissioner for Gender Equality, should improve the monitoring of the implementation of anti-discrimination and gender equality legislation both at national and at European level. Besides, clear sanctions in case of non-compliance with the above-mentioned targets should be created.

Therefore, I want to recall on the occasion of this third European Equal Pay Day that we need to address the underlining issues that widen the pay gap, such as cutting public budgets and privatizing public services, which benefits women in the main. , The lack of emphasis on investment and growth policies, particularly investment in job creation for women, the absence of strategic thinking in the care sector and the dearth of policies to encourage women to enter new booming sectors, such as IT, research and green economy and develop female entrepreneurship, including for young women all add up to the figure of 16.2% - the average gender pay gap across Europe. It’s time to close the gap.

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