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Equality involves respect for the value and remuneration of women's work


24 May 2012


Social Europe & Jobs

The principle of equality is enshrined in the EU Treaties, but in the European Union this very principle is being violated when women overall get 16 % less pay than men for the same work. Despite EU and national legislation on Equal Pay existing for almost 40 years, progress is too slow. At the current pace, the concept of work based on equal pay will only be achieved in 30 years.

In a report adopted today, the European Parliament proposed concrete measures to strengthen legislation and increase commitment from both the private and the public sectors.

Estonian MEP Siir Oviir, ALDE spokesperson on Equal Pay, supports the report, saying that finally concrete steps to end discrimination are being taken. "It is unacceptable that we have been unable so far to enforce wage-policies in such a way that both women and men receive the same remuneration for the same work. Parliament calls on the Commission to review the existing legislation by February 2013 at the latest and approve it based upon our recommendations."

A major barrier for equality is the lack of information and awareness among employers and employees about existing or possible pay gaps within their company.

"It is necessary to provide for a rigorous, transparent and gender-neutral professional evaluation system. Equality bodies should be given legal powers to impose sanctions in cases of breaching the principle of equal pay for equal work. This is currently not yet the case. It is a shame that the Commission, despite our earlier calls since 2008 to start work on a legislative initiative, has done nothing so far to tackle the problem of unequal pay for male and female workers effectively. It is high time for justice and real equality. "

Failure to apply the equal pay principle undermines the Europe 2020 employment objectives which explicitly set a target of raising the employment rate for women and men aged 20-64 to 75 %. Equal pay for equal work increases women's participation in the labour market. More active involvement of women on the employment market helps enhance the sustainability of insurance schemes, particularly in the light of demographic trends. Moreover studies have found that there is a strong correlation between larger numbers of women in company management positions and higher company profits from assets, sales, and investment capital.

For more information, please contact:

Corlett Neil - Tel:+32 2 284 20 77 Mob:+32 478 78 22 84

van der Steen Elzelien - Tel:+32-2-284 26 23 Mob:+32-477-45 42 84