Women in the European Union still continue to earn less than men for equal job, with the average gender pay gap in the EU standing at 13%. This means that for every €1 a man earns, a woman will make €0.87. Progress is steady, however still too slow, with a 2.8 percentage point gap reduction in 10 years. This year, European Equal Pay Day falls on 15 November.
Ahead of this symbolic day, Věra Jourová, Vice-President for Values and Transparency and Helena Dalli, Commissioner for Equality, said:
“Equal work deserves equal pay: this is a founding principle of the European Union. Solving the injustice of the gender pay gap cannot come without change to the structural imbalances in society. That is why this Commission doubled down efforts on gender equality and the root causes of pay inequality.
We are now in the final steps to see gender balance on corporate boards becoming a reality across the EU. We have already put new rights in place for women and men to have more choice and to better share caring responsibilities and work. And we count on the Member States to up their game on accessible, affordable, and high-quality early childhood education and long-term care – a prerequisite to support women’s participation in the labour market.
We need to empower women so that they can fulfill their potential.
However, an important piece of the puzzle is missing: pay transparency. Transparency contributes towards ending gender bias in pay from the outset and empowers workers to enforce their right to equal pay for the same work or work of equal value. We call on the European Parliament and the Council to adopt our proposed Pay Transparency Directive without undue delay.
Everyone benefits, when all are equal.”
Nine out of ten Europeans – women and men – think that it is unacceptable that women are paid less than men for the same work or work of equal value. Majority of European workers is in favour of the publication of average wages by job type and gender at their company.
The gender pay gap is a symptom of more structural imbalances between men and women in economic representations, access to education, and household care responsibilities. Women are still underrepresented, and undervalued in positions of economic decision-making. A large majority of scientists, engineers, and skilled technical workers are men. Women disproportionately bear the duties of household and childcare with 90% of the formal care workforce made up of women, and 7.7 million women out of employment because of care responsibilities.
In March 2020, the Commission published its Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 setting out actions to close the gender pay gap. In November 2020, the Commission adopted its 2021-2025 Action Plan on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in External Action.
The Commission’s proposal on pay transparency, adopted on 4 March 2021, introduces to measures to ensure that women and men in the EU get equal pay for equal work.
In June 2022, the European Parliament and the Council approved the Commission’s proposal to improve the gender balance on corporate boards. It will soon become EU law.
The Commission’s proposal on adequate minimum wages for workers, adopted on 28 October 2020, supports gender equality by helping to close the gender pay gap and to lift women out of poverty, as more women than men earn minimum wages in Europe.
The Commission also addresses women’s underrepresentation in the labour market by improving the work-life balance of working parents and carers. The new Directive on work-life balance entered into force on 2 August 2022.
In September 2022, the Commission presented the European Care Strategy to ensure quality, affordable and accessible care services across the European Union. The Strategy is accompanied by two Recommendations for Member States on the revision of the Barcelona targets on early childhood education and care, and on access to affordable high-quality long-term care.