Estonia has the second-highest gender pay gap in the EU

Estonia’s gender pay gap, for years the highest in the EU, is now the second highest – as the country’s southern neighbour, Latvia, has even higher one; Estonia’s gender pay gap, at 21%, is way above the EU average (13%).

Women in the European Union continue to earn less than men for equal job, with the average gender pay gap in the EU standing at 13%, the EU’s official statistics, compiled by Eurostat, shows.

The highest gap is in Latvia, Estonia, Austria, Germany and Hungary; the lowest in Luxembourg, Romania, Slovenia, Italy and Poland.

This means that for every €1 a man earns, a women will make €0.87. “Progress is steady, however still too slow, with a 2.8 percentage point gap reduction in 10 years,” the European Commission said on the European Equal Pay Day, on 15 November.

Pay transparency important

“Equal work deserves equal pay: this is a founding principle of the European Union. Solving the injustice of the gender pay gap cannot come without change to the structural imbalances in society. That is why this Commission doubled down efforts on gender equality and the root causes of pay inequality,” Věra Jourová, the commission’s vice president for values and transparency, and Helena Dalli, the commissioner for equality, said in a joint statement.

The commissioners said they “count on the [EU] member states to up their game on accessible, affordable, and high-quality early childhood education and long-term care – a prerequisite to support women’s participation in the labour market”. “We need to empower women so that they can fulfil their potential.”

Helena Dalli, the European commissioner for equality. Photo by the European Commission.

The European Commission emphasised that “an important piece of the puzzle” is pay transparency. “Transparency contributes towards ending gender bias in pay from the outset and empowers workers to enforce their right to equal pay for the same work or work of equal value. We call on the European Parliament and the Council to adopt our proposed Pay Transparency Directive without undue delay.”

A symptom of “structural imbalances”

A study ordered by the commission shows that nine out of ten Europeans – women and men – think that it is unacceptable that women are paid less than men for the same work or work of equal value. Majority of European workers are in favour of the publication of average wages by job type and gender at their company, according to the study.

The commission said the gender pay gap is a “symptom of more structural imbalances between men and women in economic representations, access to education, and household care responsibilities.”

“Women are still underrepresented and undervalued in positions of economic decision-making. A large majority of scientists, engineers, and skilled technical workers are men. Women disproportionately bear the duties of household and childcare with 90% of the formal care workforce made up of women, and 7.7 million women out of employment because of care responsibilities,” the commission noted.

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