International Women’s Day: Gender pay gaps in EU threaten economic independence
Tuesday, 08 March 2016
In 2014 the gender pay gap varied widely across EU member states according to a report by Eurostat, the statistics office of EU. Overall in the EU, women earned about 16 % less than men.
The gender pay gap was less than 10% in Slovenia (2.9%), Malta (4.5%), Italy (6.5%), Poland (7.7%), Luxembourg (8.6%) as well as Belgium (9.9%). At the opposite end of the scale, the gender pay gap was over 20% in Estonia (28.3%), Austria (22.9%), the Czech Republic (22.1%), Germany (21.6%) and Slovakia (21.1%).
In its news release on the occasion of International Women’s Day, celebrated each year on 8 March, Eurostat notes that the gender pay gap is linked to a number of legal, social and economic factors which go far beyond the single issue of equal pay for equal work.
Part of the earnings difference can according to Eurostat be explained by individual characteristics of employed men and women (e.g. experience and education) and by sectoral and occupational gender segregations (e.g., there are more men than women in certain occupations with, on the average, higher earnings compared to other occupations).
Consequently, the pay gap is linked to a number of cultural, legal, social and economic factors which go far beyond the single issue of equal pay for equal work. If adjusted for working time – and women tend to work more part-time than men – the gap increases to 20 %.
Eurostat notes that with or without children, women are more likely to work part-time than men in almost all EU member states. However, the gap widens with the number of children. This general trend is observed in an overwhelming majority of Member States.
An often discussed question is if the pay gap is solely due to discrimination. Even if the gap would be corrected for factors such as experience and pay differences between sectors, a considerable part of the gap would remain. This could be called discrimination – although it is illegal – even if cultural factors play also a role.
According to EurActiv.com (8 March), the European Commission will review its actions on the gender pay gap this year and may consider legislation requiring companies to be transparent about what they pay employees.
On a global level the situation is much worse. In a call to world leaders for global gender equality, the ONE Campaign, and advocacy organization with office in Brussels, states that some 62 million girls are denied the right to education. Half a billion women cannot read. 155 countries still have laws that discriminate against women.