Source: EU Business

(BRUSSELS) – A report on gender equality to mark International Women’s Day on Wednesday shows that despite women’s employment rate reaching an all-time high, women still earn 16.3% less than men across Europe.

The 2017 Report on equality between women and men in the EU finds notable progress through EU legislation, guidelines, actions and funding possibilities, but uneven progress in the EU Member States.

The rate of women’s employment in the European Union reached an all-time high of 65.5% in 2016. But there is still a big difference with the 77% rate of men.

Women also continue to face a glass ceiling in reaching management and leadership positions, though the Commission institution reports that it is well on track to meet its own target of 40% female representation in senior and middle management positions by 2019.

The report provides an overview of the main EU policy and legal developments in gender equality during the last year, as well as examples of policies and actions in Member States. Specifically, the 2017 Gender Equality report shows that women still face challenges in different areas:

  • Women’s unemployment rate remains very high in southern countries in particular, compared to men’s unemployment rate.
  • Women still earn on average 40% less than men on average in all EU countries and the gender pay gap in pensions is stable at 38%. At this rate of change, it would however take another century to close the overall gender earnings gap.
  • The glass ceiling still exists with only four countries (France, Italy, Finland and Sweden) have at least 30 % women in the boards of large companies.
  • Women are still under-represented in politics. In eight countries (Bulgaria, Greece, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Hungary, Malta and Romania) women accounted for less than 20 % of members.

Within the European Commission, the 40% target of female representation in senior and middle management positions by 2019 set by Commission chief jean-Claude Juncker is almost reached with nearly 35% of middle managers being women just two years into the mandate. Women make up for 32% of all senior managers (Director level and above). In particular, in the last two years, the Commission appointed several women to top management – Director-General or their deputies – thus increasing the representation of women at that level to 29%, up from 13% in November 2014.

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