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European Union to End Gender Inequality Pay Gap by 2019

The issue of gender inequality is not limited to just the United States. The European Union (EU) recently took to the topic, bringing it to light after a new Eurobarometer survey revealed that the EU member states have a long way to go in terms of gender equality. As a result, the commission is announcing a plan of action in order to permanently end gender inequality in the EU.

The survey showed that while attitudes toward gender equality are generally positive, the statistics do not reflect that positive attitude. 9 out of 10 Europeans believe that gender equality is an important issue in society, while 50 percent of them believe that there need to be more women involved in political decisions. 7 in 10 are prepared to create a legal measure that will eventually ensure gender equality.

The same can be said in the financial sphere. While 90 percent of Europeans say that it is unacceptable for women to be paid less than men, women are still being paid an average of 16.3 percent less than men. In theory, a woman makes 16 cents less per dollar that every man makes, which equates to 84 cents on the dollar.

“Women are still underrepresented in decision-making positions in politics and the business world,” says Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová. “They still earn 16% less than men on average across the EU…This is unfair and unacceptable in today’s society. The gender pay gap must be closed because the economic independence of women is their best protection.”

Other issues that were discussed were sexual harassment, the work-life balance, and violence against women. The survey found that like the gender inequality pay gap, statistics that approved of more balance to work-home life and violence against women were not mirrored in the workplace or in society. More than 8 in 10 Europeans think a man should do an equal share of household chores and take care of his children about as often as his wife does. However, the dominant train of thought, or 73 percent, is that women still spend more time doing household chores than men do.

“Gender equality is a fundamental right,” says First Vice President Frans Timmermans. “We must use the current focus on these issues in the media and politics to turn principle into practice. Women across Europe have the right to equality, empowerment and safety, but these rights are not yet a reality for far too many women.”

The European Commission’s plan presents three spearheads, all of which plan to help end the gender pay gap in some way by the end of 2019. They include improving respect for the gender pay gap principle, urging member states and the European Parliament to adopt an earlier work-life proposal made in April, and to create change by funding projects to improve gender balances and encouraging governments to improve gender balances in decision making.

The question is, if the United States is supposed to be the best country in the world, where are the government’s efforts to try and close the gender pay gap? Today in the United States, women earn 79 cents to every man’s dollar, even less than European women make. Shouldn’t the US be scrambling to fix the gap? Yet it remains with men continuing to make more money simply because of a chromosome.

It’s time to change.

Featured Image by Nic McPhee on Flickr

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