EWL News

European Equal Pay Day: EWL highlights the life-long consequences of the gender pay gap

[Brussels, 02 March 2012] On the second European Equal Pay Day, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) stresses that the slow progress towards equal pay in Europe has life-long consequences for the girls and women of today. The gender gap in pay produces an even greater gender gap in pensions and means poverty for many women in the later stages of their lives. The EWL calls on the European Commission to complement its welcomed efforts to close the gender pay gap by developing an EU-indicator for measuring the gender pension gap.

To date, no coherent data exists to compare the individual pension entitlements of women with those of their male counterparts in the EU. In Germany, where an indicator for measuring the gender pension gap has already been developed, women at the age of 65 receive an individual pension that is almost 60% lower than that of men of the same age. Because of the gender pension gap, more than 20% of women over the age of 65 in the EU live at-risk of poverty.

“When we celebrate the European Equal Pay Day, we must look beyond the present time. The small gains made to narrow down the gender pay gap are not enough to ensure equal pensions and sufficient old age income for the women and girls of today,” said Cécile Gréboval, EWL Secretary General. “We know that women face the long-lasting consequences of the gender pay gap when they retire, but we do not have the data to assess how serious their situation is. We must start to measure and monitor the gender pension gap in order to avoid scarifying another generation of older women.”

The recent tendencies in Europe to strengthen the link between pension contributions and benefits make addressing the gender pay gap even more urgent. Because women are paid less, they contribute less to their pensions. In addition, women’s pension income is negatively influenced by the time spent out of the labour-market to care for children and other dependent family members together with women’s overrepresentation in part-time work and in low paid sectors of the economy. Gender pension gap mirrors the accumulation of all the gender inequalities that women face across their life-cycle.

“Awareness-raising and monitoring can only be a first step. To bridge gender gaps in pay and pensions, we need a multidimensional strategy, which tackles the gender inequalities that are behind them,” said Alexandra Jachanová Doleželová, Vice-President of the EWL.

Pensions and ageing are high on the EU agenda, due to 2012 being the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations and the European Commission’s recent White Paper on pensions. While the European Commission acknowledges that the pension gap between women and men needs to be addressed, it fails to propose a mechanism to measure and monitor the gender pension gap.

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