Education International
Education International

Women work 59 days ‘for free’

published 11 March 2014 updated 12 March 2014

On average, women work 59 days unpaid per year. On occasion of the 4th European Equal Pay Day, the European Commission has released the new brochure Tackling the gender pay gap in the European Union, which explains the gender pay gap, its causes and the benefits of closing it.

Indicating the average difference between women and men’s hourly earnings, the gender pay gap still stands at 16.4%. Despite a slight weak downward trend, in recent years, the gender pay gap exists at various levels in all 28 Member States.

A continuous decreasing trend of the gender gap can be found in Denmark, the Czech Republic, Austria, the Netherlands and Cyprus, while other countries (Poland, Lithuania) have reversed their decreasing trend in 2012. In some countries like Hungary, Portugal, Estonia, Bulgaria, Ireland and Spain, the gender pay gap has increased in recent years.

This year, the European Equal Pay Day was commemorated on 28 February 2014. The last day in February marks the date in the new calendar year from which women really begin to be paid for their work as compared to men. In effect, it means that women effectively work the first 2 months of each year for nothing, given the stark difference between women and men’s pay.

The gender pay gap shows that women still do not get equal pay for equal work. It contradicts the principle of equal treatment of men and women, one of the founding principles of the European Union.