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Women care for society, it’s time society cares for women

[Brussels, 8 March 2016] On this International Women’s Day, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) launches its Campaign ‘Together we can make it happen, Equal Pension Rights for Women Now!’

The campaign draws attention to the blatant discrimination that women face as they age. The accompanying video clip shows that the entrenched male bread-winner model requires robust measures to move towards an equal earner-equal carer model for the Europe of tomorrow while safeguarding women’s pension rights today. “Awareness-raising and monitoring are only the first steps. To bridge gender gaps in pay and pensions we need to put equal rights for women at the core of all pension reforms”, states Joanna Maycock, EWL Secretary General.

The gender pension gap in Europe is an astounding 40% which means that for every 100€ that men receive women only receive 60€. An intolerable situation in 2016 almost 60 years after the principle of equal pay was enshrined in the EU treaties and 40 years since the first directive on equal pay was adopted in the 1970s.

Pensions are the flip side of the coin as slow progress towards equal pay in Europe has life-long consequences for the girls and women of today. The gender gap in pay (16%) produces an even greater gender gap in pensions (40%) which means poverty for many women in the later stages of their lives. The EWL calls on the European Commission for robust measures to develop an EU-indicator for measuring the gender pension gap and, through the European Semester process, to issue recommendations to all EU Member States to reduce the gender gap in pensions as part of ongoing pension reform policies.

In 2015, 14 Member States were issued with country-specific-recommendations to continue ongoing pension reforms by linking pensions to life expectancy and/or aligning women and men’s pensionable age. But not one recommendation addressed the urgency of closing the gender pension gap.
“Yet, we know that women face the long-lasting consequences of the gender pay gap when they retire, and we must start to measure and monitor the gender pension gap in order to avoid sacrificing another generation of older women.” Says Joanna Maycock, “Measures that aim to reform pension systems provide an opportune moment to ensure that the outcome of such reforms address the phenomenal gap in women’s pensions in Europe. We cannot let that opportunity pass.”

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. The gender pension gap mirrors the accumulation of all the gender inequalities that women face across their life-cycle.

Join the EWL campaign Equal Pension Rights Now! #equalpensions!
Share the video and let us know your thoughts, discuss the issue with your friends and family, meet with your trade union and ask your government to close the pension gap. Together we can make it happen!

The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) is the largest umbrella of women’s associations in the European Union (EU), working to promote women’s rights and equality between women and men. EWL membership extends to organisations in all 28 EU member states and the three candidate countries, as well as to 20 European-wide bodies, representing a total of more than 2000 organisations. For a feminist Europe. @EuropeanWomen
For more information, interviews, background or visual materials, please contact:

  • Elvira Buijink, EWL Communication and Media Officer @elvirabui +32 2 210 04 40
  • Mary Collins, Senior Advocacy & Policy Coordinator @MaryCollinsEWL +32 2 210 04 20

Extra resources:
1. 2012 EWL reaction to European Commission White Paper 3135
2. 2013 EWL reaction to European Commission Report on pension gap 5471
3. 2014 EWL reaction to European Commission Report on pension gap 6446
4. 2015 EIGE Report on pension gap
5. FAQ on the gender pension gap on our website 7375

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