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One of the primary setbacks for women in their careers is the fact that they are still the primary child-care givers

Equal Pay Day in Europe: men have already earned as much as women will for the entire year

Equal Pay Day in Europe: men have already earned as much as women will for the entire year

Despite years of concentrated efforts to bridge the gender wage gap, the European Union still has a lot of work to do

This year, 10 November is Equal Pay Day in the European Union. This means that from Wednesday until the end of the year, women will symbolically be working for free due to the gender pay gap. Despite the fact that equal pay between men and women has been codified into EU law since at least the 70s, the pay gap is a persistent problem across the block.

What does working for free mean?

Currently, the EU average pay gap between men and women sits at 14.1% and, according to the EU Commission, that is the equivalent of roughly two months of salary. This would mean that, broadly speaking, up to 10 November, men have earned as much as women will for the entire year.

Despite years of concentrated effort and progress in the area, unequal pay is a persistent issue. According to Eurostat, this is mainly due to the fact that women are still the primary caregivers when it comes to children and sometimes skipping years of their careers has a cumulative effect on the overall wages of women.

After they come back to work, they often end up in part-time jobs or doing low skilled labour. EU Commissioners Vera Jourova, Nicolas Schmit and Helena Dalli were quoted in a press release saying that despite numerous improvements to social and professional life, the wage gap seems to be significant and with deep cultural roots.

An overview of the European Union

According to a study by Eurostat on the gender pay gap, there is a significant difference between member states. For instance, Estonia has the highest pay gap of 21.7%, while Luxembourg has the lowest with 1.3%.

Austria is another country, among the highest. There, the gap is around 20% and the local Equal Pay Day was on 25 October. Romania, on the other hand, has the second-lowest gender pay gap of 3.3%, showing that wage equality is not that dependent on a country’s wealth.

A visualisation of the gender wage gap in the European Union, Source: Eurostat

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