European Unequal Pay Day 2019: PES Women call on the first female Commission President to close the gender pay gap

European Unequal Pay Day 2019: PES Women call on the first female Commission President to close the gender pay gap

PES Women President Zita Gurmai said:

“The first woman to head up the European Commission has been very keen to talk about gender equality. But a gender balanced College is not enough, we need action now which will deliver equality for all women. We are positive that the new Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, will push for this, but we want assurances that Ursula von der Leyen will wholeheartedly join the fight too. That is why we are campaigning today.

“We are calling on women to make their voices heard – proudly put your out of office message on, share our Unequal Pay Day campaign, and stand in solidarity with your sisters for your right to equality.”

From Brussels, PES Women has sent the special 2019 Unequal Pay Day postcard to incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, urging her to act to close the gender pay gap. The same has been done by PES Women members from right across the European Union. They are calling for the new Commission to reduce the pay gap 2 percentage points per year, per country, per age group. This can be achieved by introducing audits at EU level – such as through transparency grids. Clear and dissuasive sanctions in case of non-fulfilment must also be enshrined in EU law.

In the EU, women are paid 16% less than men on average. This means that, when compared to their male colleagues’ salaries, women on average work the equivalent of two months for free. Today – 4 November 2019 – marks the date after which women effectively stop getting paid this year: Unequal Pay Day.

PES Women has run an Unequal Pay Day campaign for the last three years, arguing that EU leaders must act to eliminate pay discrimination. The 2019 postcard and other campaign materials, in multiple European languages, can be downloaded from the PES website.


Notes to editors

PES Women

  • PES Women promotes gender equality and women’s representation both inside and outside the PES. More information can be found at:

The gender pay gap

  • The gender pay gap is the result of multiple factors: a segregated labour market which values roles traditionally undertaken by men, negative effects on pay and promotion which result from maternity leave, a higher likelihood that women have unpaid household and care responsibilities, broad societal discrimination based on gender, and many other factors.
  • The Gender Pay Gap is calculated every year using statistics produced by Eurostat.
  • Averaged across the European Union, the gap stands at 16%, although in some countries it is as high as 25%.
  • The date of European Unequal Pay Day is calculated by translating the current gap – 16% – into days, which are deducted from the end of the year. In 2019, Unequal Pay Day is 4 November, but this will change every year as the gap widens or shrinks. National Unequal Pay Days will fall earlier or later in the year, depending on the respective pay gap in each Member State.