European Equal Pay Day 2017

Friday 3 November 2017

Today is European Equal Pay Day 2017 when women symbolically stop earning for the rest of the year.

The average hourly pay of women in Europe is 16.3% lower than that of men. European Equal Pay Day, which falls on 3 November this year, marks the moment when women effectively stop getting paid compared to their male colleagues, with almost two months of the year remaining.

This means that women work for two months a year for free in comparison to their male colleagues.

Women still tend to work in lesser-paid sectors, get fewer promotions and are underrepresented in management positions. Single-parent households with women as the sole breadwinner are more exposed to poverty, including child poverty and the consequent disadvantages.

This is despite the fact that, in the EU, women perform equally well or even better in education than men. In 2016, 33% of women in the EU had completed tertiary education, compared to 29% of men. Yet, women continue to be under-represented at top-level positions in the largest companies in the EU; only 1/14 board chairs, and 1/20 CEOs are women.

Amel Djemail, UNI Europa’s Policy Officer for Equal Opportunities, states that ‘we need to ensure fundamental rights for all workers. This means equal opportunities for men and women in terms of employment. A secure contract which respects equal pay for equal work!’

Oliver Roethig, UNI Europa’s Regional Secretary, states that ‘we urgently need to make progress on this issue as wage discrimination against women is severely affecting our societies. On top of this, digitalisation tends to affect women more negatively widening instead of narrowing the pay gap.’

The gender pay gap is not the only problem. Recent revelations on sexual harassment underline the potentially hostile working environments which women also have to face, with severe consequences for their professional development, mental health and well-being.

It is essential that we act to increase female labour market participation and the equal economic independence of women and men by:

‣ reducing the gender pay, earnings and pension gaps and thus fighting poverty among women;

‣ promoting equality between women and men in decision-making;

‣ combating gender-based violence and protecting and supporting victims; and

‣ promoting gender equality and women’s rights across the world.