The average Gender Pay Gap in the UK still stands at 20.9%.
In the European Union this figure is 16.3%. If overall earnings are considered, both figures stand at 45.7% and 39.8%, respectively. This is the magnitude of an old problem that exists not only across Europe but also across the world. Women work about two months for free, in comparison to men, each year.
Equal Pay Days have raised awareness about this phenomenon for over a decade, which summarise ongoing discrimination and inequalities. Since Belgium started to organise the first Equal Pay Day in 2005 other countries and the EC have followed suite. In the UK, it took place on November 10th, 2016; the significance of the date indicates how from that date until the end of the year men are paid for their work while women are not.
Around Europe, the diverse national Equal Pay Days indicate the gender pay gap by highlighting the period of the year when women are not remunerated for their ‘supposedly’ paid work. In Spain, February 22nd is the Equal Pay Day. The date symbolises that after almost two months of working for free, women start to earn the same as men who do similar work. The Gender Pay Gap (GPG) in Spain stands at 14.9%.
Although being aware of the problem is a first step, it is not enough to solve it. In the GPG project, which we are involved, stakeholders decided to take action to solve this structural problem. Among the tools and strategies to face it, learning from others and strengthening own strategies in the national context were significant outcomes, which continue to impact the situation.
In Spain, the Platform for Equal & Non-Transferable Parental Leave (PPIINA is the Spanish partner), an associated partner of the GPG project, will celebrate the Equal Pay Day with a conference with well-known figures of different domains of the Spanish society and economy. Relevant people from university to cinema, including scientific leaders, artists, philosophers, economists, journalists and so on) will point out that it’s possible to take public actions to solve some of the structural factors that underpins the GPG. In particular, they claim that the Spanish Parliament should legislate to implement equal, non-transferable and fully paid parental leave in the country, so men and women have similar opportunities to take care for their children while keeping involved in the labour market. Meaning fathers have the same paid time to take care of their kids as mothers: 16 weeks paid at 100% of their previous income.
As the EC and most researchers show, caring activities (how they are valued and who carries them out) are one the most embedded problems in this unfair situation. The fewer hours a day that men spend in caring activities, paid and unpaid, are related to different factors that may be used to explain the GPG, such as extra unpaid work, career breaks to care for others, glass ceiling, discrimination and segregation.
Public policies can modify this behaviour and evaluation of public policies has shown what design is needed to advance and create a structure where men and women have similar opportunities to take care of their babies, it’s a nice start to solve an old and still ongoing problem: the gender pay gap, so the Equal Pay Day is good news.
The Equal Pay Day in Spain will be used not only for raising awareness, but also to claim the approval of public policies and a law that has been formally supported by political parties since at least 2012, but the Parliament has not approved a law which allows its implementation yet.
For further information on our work on the Gender Pay Gap please contact: Dr Cristina Castellanos, Senior Researcher / Consultant