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For Immediate Release

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2016, the European Institute of Women’s Health calls on both key stakeholders and citizens of Europe to make a pledge for parity.

International Women’s Day is held on the 8th of March each year throughout the world to celebrate women’s contributions and achievements and to call on continued change to promote gender equality. The European Institute of Women’s Health (EIWH) supports this year’s theme, “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It up for Gender Equality” and actively work to raise awareness on gender inequities #IWD2016.

Many efforts have been made in recent decades to reduce gender inequalities throughout the world. Despite some progress, large inequities continue to persist, so explicit and continued efforts must be made promote gender equality. In 2014, the World Economic Forum estimated that gender gap would not be eliminated globally until 2095. One year later, the figure was readjusted due to progress slowdown; global gender will not be achieved until 2133. We cannot sit idly, watching this slowdown in vital progress.

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2016, the EIWH draws attention to the gender pay gap, which has large repercussions for both women and their families. Women in the EU earn less over their lifetime than do men, resulting in lower pension levels and higher rates of poverty. In 2012, 22% of women over the age of sixty-five were at risk of poverty compared to 16% of men of the same age. The gender pay gap has generally declined in the last decade. However, women in the EU earn about 16% less per hour despite having good or better qualifications than their male counterparts. This gap varies across Europe and has been widening in some countries.

Furthermore, women face a large burden of unpaid domestic work and childcare in the EU leading them to work shorter hours than men. These family obligations often force them to work in certain sectors and having children increases the gender pay gap. Consequently, women are more likely than men to be part-time and low-paid positions and are less likely to hold management and leadership positions. Therefore, the employment rate of women is lower than men in Europe. Lower employment rates among women can negatively impact opportunities for career advancement, training, pensions and unemployment benefits.

The EU has a long history of working to close the gender pay gap, starting with the Treaty of Rome, 1957. The Directive on Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value (Directive 2006/54/EC) outlines community legislation in the area of equal treatment for men and women in employment, including the application, enforcement and monitoring of equal pay provisions. At present, the Treaty of Lisbon includes a basis for EU action on the gender pay gap and the Charter of Fundamental Rights includes a commitment to gender equality. Horizon 2020 also includes various objectives to improve the employment situation of women by creating more and better jobs. The EIWH applauds these actions and encourages the EU to continue to be a global leader in promoting gender equity.

The Institute calls on key stakeholders and citizens of Europe to make a pledge for parity #PledgeForParity and to work to implement the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, especially those that eliminate of gender inequalities and end to discrimination and violence against women and girls. The EIWH welcomes new efforts like the UN Women’s Step It Up Initiatives that work to promote the rights and empowerment of women and girls throughout the world.

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