European women work for free until the end of the year

4th November was European Unequal Pay Day. In the EU, women are paid 16% less than men on average. As a result, when compared to their male colleagues’ salaries, women work almost two months out of 12 for free. To mark the occasion PES Women have launched a campaign that includes sending postcards to European Commission President Von der Leyen asking for action to close the gender pay gap and setting out-of-office replies, to underline the fact that from 4 November until the end of the year, women are working "for free". Unequal Pay Day falls on a different date in each country, as the gender pay gap varies from 3.5% in Romania, to 25.6% in Estonia. Estonian women have thus already been working for free since early October!

There are several underlying causes to this gender pay gap. Labour market segregation causes women to be overrepresented in sectors where wages are low. In addition, the responsibility for care work and household tasks continues to disproportionately fall on women. Policies to improve work-life balance, which allow workers to combine their job with private responsibilities are furthermore insufficient. To close the gender pay gap, we need to value all work, including unpaid care work. Increased pay transparency will also contribute to women being paid fairly for the work they do.