More ambition is needed to close the gender pay gap, say S&Ds to Commission’s EU Action Plan

equal pay women gender equality

The Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament are calling for decisive action and binding measures to finally close the gender pay gap. Reacting to the Commission’s EU Action Plan for tackling the gender pay gap, presented today by Commissioner Věra Jourová, the S&Ds welcomed the initiative to put the topic back onto the political agenda but want to see more ambition. The time for monitoring and assessing must be over; raising awareness is not enough. The EU Commission's own analysis shows that what has been done at a national level and on a voluntary basis alone has not been effective.

The Socialists and Democrats have long been campaigning for equal pay for work of equal value and demanded a revision of EU law and binding measures to improve the situation. To end the gender pay gap, we want to introduce wage mapping and binding measures for pay transparency; recognition of skills, efforts and responsibilities in sectors with a mainly female workforce such as care and education, and their better valorisation including raise in wages; gender-equality plans for companies, to be negotiated with social partners; quotas in the public and private sectors; and a guarantee for returning from part-time to full-time work.

S&D Group spokesperson for women’s rights and gender equality Iratxe García Pérez MEP said:

“The proposals on tackling the gender pay gap put on the table by the Commission today are too soft and not far-reaching enough. In the past ten years almost no progress has been made towards closing the gender pay gap, which proves that voluntary measures at a national level are simply not enough. To fight the gender pay gap we need more than awareness-raising campaigns. We need a revision of EU law.

“The economic independence of women is a key factor for achieving equality between women and men. The Socialists and Democrats are fighting to close the gender pay gap, achieve a real balance between work and private life, improve women's participation in the labour market and decision-making, and eradicate gender-based violence, including sexual harassment at the workplace. As long as discrimination between women and men exists in the labour market, our societies are neither fair nor equal.”

Udo Bullmann, S&D MEP and vice-president on economic and social affairs, added:

“Millions of working women in Europe earn less than their male colleagues. This gender pay gap of 16% results in an even bigger pension gap of 40%. Women would have to work ten years longer to earn the same as men over their lifetimes. This is outrageous. We, the Socialists and Democrats, have long been fighting for equal pay for equal work and work of equal value for a long time. The time for nice words is definitely over, Europe’s women deserve better: binding measures and concrete actions now.”

Background information on the gender pay gap:

The gender pay gap refers to the difference in average gross hourly wages between men and women across the economy.

The overall gender earnings gap is the difference in average annual earnings between men and women.

•    Across the EU, women earn 16.3% less than men per hour
•    Women would have to work ten years more or start ten years sooner to earn as much as men in their lifetime
•    Only 2.8% of CEOs are women
•    Lower earnings equal lower pensions for women: 22% of women will be faced with the risk of poverty in retirement compared to 16% for men
•    Pay gaps vary by country: the countries that perform the best are Italy (7%) and Bulgaria (15%), whereas the countries that perform the worst are Estonia (28%) and Germany (22%)
•    Among the factors accounting for the gender pay gap are: the fact that managerial and supervisory positions are overwhelmingly held by men; women undertaking important unpaid tasks such as household work and caring for children; career interruptions; segregation in education and the labour market; and pay discrimination.
•    Currently, the average overall earnings gap between women and men amounts to 41.1% in the EU.
•    The gender earnings gap is due to lower hourly earnings, working fewer hours in paid jobs and lower employment rates.