28 February 2013 is the third European Equal Pay Day (EEPD), an EU-wide event marking the extra number of days that women would need to work every year to match the amount earned by men: currently 59 days.
The gender pay gap (GPG), or the average difference between women and men’s hourly earnings across the EU, is 16.2% according to figures released on 28 February 2013 by the European Commission, reports EU Business. The gap reflects ongoing discrimination and inequalities in the labour market which, in practice, mainly affect women. Its causes are complex and interrelated. Reasons for the existence and size of the GPG differ strongly between Member States, e.g., kind of jobs held by women, consequences of breaks in career or part-time work due to childbearing and decisions in favour of family life, etc. To help tackle this gap, the Commission is highlighting a series of good practices by companies in Europe which have taken on the problem. The latest figures are based on 2010 data from across the EU and confirm a slight downward trend in recent years: the figure has been around 17% or higher the previous years. The gender gap in Belgium stands at 10%. Slovenia has the most gender-equal pay system, with a 1% gap, while Estonia, with a 28% gender gap, has the worst figures in the EU. The majority of the EU countries recorded a higher gender pay gap in the private sector than the public sector. Within the private sector, one of the highest pay gaps of the EU was observed in the United Kingdom (26%). In the UK public sector, a GPG of 20% has been recorded.
"European Equal Pay Day reminds us of the unequal pay conditions women still face in the labour market. While the pay gap has declined in the recent years, there’s no reason to celebrate. The pay gap is still very large and much of the change actually resulted from a decline in men’s earnings rather than an increase for women”, said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner. "The principle of equal pay for equal work is written in the EU Treaties since 1957. It is high time that it is put in practice everywhere. Let us work together to deliver results not only on Equal Pay Days, but on all 365 days a year!"
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