Equal Pay Day: Women in Europe work 59 days ‘for free’

Men and women are still treated differently within Europe. The European Commission wants to draw attention to the fact that women work 59 days ‘for free’, when compared to salaries men get paid. These 59 ‘free’ days add up to a 16.2% pay gap between the genders, according to the European Commission.

The EU has made it its mission to enhance the position of women when it comes to work, salaries and their overall position on the European labour market. Of course, numbers vary according to country, but the general tendency is alarming. Just as the new regulation on the amount of women that have to be part of company boards. As my previous post on ‘Women on boards!’ illustrated. As the European Commission posts in its press release:

To help tackle the pay gap, the Commission is highlighting a series of good practices by companies in Europe which have taken on the problem. It is the third time the Equal Pay Day takes place at European level, following its launch by the Commission on 5 March 2011 (see IP/11/255) and the second day on 2 March 2012 (see IP/12/211). (European Commission, 28-02-2013, emphasis removed)

Eurostat (the European agency gathering numbers on practically anything you can think of) published alarming statistics on this pay gap. It turns out that numbers vary per country. But pay gap percentages are between 0.9% (Slovenia) and 27.7% (Estonia). You can find the numbers of other countries in the following diagram:

Percentages: pay gap

Eurostat’s percentages on the European pay gaps between genders.

Is it necessary for the EU to make an issue out of the position of women in the labour market, or can this issue be solved simply by letting it run its course? I would like to hear your opinions on this.

For a funny representation of what is really going on, the European Commission has published a video to draw people’s attention to this severe problem at our doorstep! It illustrates that women are ‘segregated’ by men, because they simply get paid less for the same job.



  1. European Commission, ‘Equal Pay Day: Women in Europe work 59 days ‘for free’, http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-165_en.htm#PR_metaPressRelease_bottom, consulted 28-02-2013.
  2. Eurostat, ‘Gender Pay Gap Statistics’, via European Commission, ‘Equal Pay Day: Women in Europe work 59 days ‘for free’, http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-165_en.htm#PR_metaPressRelease_bottom, consulted 28-02-2013.

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