Search icon


03rd Nov 2018

Today is Equal Pay Day – for the rest of the year, women in Europe work for free

Jade Hayden

November 3 is Equal Pay Day.

For the rest of the year, because of the gender pay gap, women in Europe work for free.

The European Commission decided to mark November 3 to draw attention to the wage gap, the reasons behind it, and the ramifications it has for women across the continent.

As of 2018, women in Europe still earn 16.2 percent less than men.

According to the commission, the pay gap is not just unfair in principal, “but also in practice.”

“It puts women in precarious situations during their careers,” a statement reads, “and even more so after they retire, with a gender pension gap of 36.6 percent.”

“While there is no instant solution to fix this inequality, there are ways to bring about concrete change. The Commission has put a number of proposals on the table to address this issue in the workplace and at home.”

These proposals include paternity leave of at least 10 days for all fathers in Europe, paid parental leave for both women and men, and a carer’s leave of up to five days.

These changes would increase the possibility of men taking on parental and caring responsibilities – jobs which are often left to women by default.

This will in turn increase women’s availability in the labour market.

The wage gap most severely affects women who are working part-time jobs and, of course, those who work in lower paid sectors.

The gap also exists due to a lack of push for women in senior management roles and fewer promotions for women in corporation positions.

Last month, the Seanad passed all stages of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (Gender Pay Gap) Information Bill 2017, in the hope to achieve pay transparency.

Senator Ivana Bacik said that Equal Pay Day is necessary to draw attention to the 16 percent wage gap in Europe and the 14 percent gap in Ireland.

She said:

“It has been estimated that despite changes in gender equality generally and progressive change for women’s rights in Ireland over the past 11 years, the gender pay gap has narrowed only four percentage points.

“At current rates, the National Women’s Council estimates it will take up to 170 years before it fully closes.

“We cannot wait that long, and the government should take the opportunity to now proceed with legislation. It would have been fitting and timely to have addressed the gender pay gap in the centenary year of 2018.”