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European Commission must take the lead in ensuring gender equality in pensions, says EWL

[Brussels, 02 January 2012] The European Commission will soon adopt the much anticipated White Paper on pensions, which will set out a vision for affordable and sustainable pensions in the EU. The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) has written a letter to the Commission President José Manuel Barroso, making concrete proposals on how the European Commission can ensure gender equality in pensions.

The outcomes of current pension systems are gendered and unequal. The gender pension gap, the difference between women’s and men’s individual pension entitlements that is the mirror of all the inequalities women have faced across their lives, is more than 40% in several EU Member States. More than one fifth of the elderly women in the EU live at risk of poverty.

The EWL is concerned that the current tendencies to increase retirement ages, strengthen the link between contributions and benefits and emphasise the role of private pension schemes may aggrevate these inequalities.

In the letter, the EWL underlines that gender equality in pensions requires, on the one hand, guaranteeing a dignified old-age income for women who have already retired and, one the other hand, ensuring that working-aged women of today and tomorrow are entitled to the same pension rights as men.

This requires a multi-level approach that entails reforming pension systems so as to eliminate discrimination and take account of women’s life cycles and redressing the gender gaps in employment that contribute to the gender pension gap, including through increasing care services for children and other dependents.

EWL proposals for more gender equal pension systems:

  1. Develop European standard on care crediting to ensure that pension systems reflect life courses that include care periods and to make them more gender equal;
  2. Bridge the gender pension gap through addressing gender gaps in employment and the increasing care needs in the framework of the EU 2020 Strategy;
  3. Ensure individual pension rights for the elderly women of today;
  4. Secure strong statutory state pensions and address gender issues in the second and third pillar schemes.

Read the full letter here.

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