First European Equal Pay Day - 5 March 2011
To raise awareness of the existence of the gender pay gap, the European Commission is launching a European Equal Pay Day (EEPD) which will become an annual event across Europe. As it develops the EEPD will provide a focus for activities to raise awareness of the gender pay gap and the need to take action to close it.
Women in Europe currently earn on average 17.5% less than men.
This inequality has an impact throughout women's lives and especially when they retire as lower salaries lead to lower pensions and a higher risk of poverty in older age.
The date of the EEPD, which will vary every year depending on the average EU gender pay gap provided by Eurostat, marks the day up to which women need to work in order to earn the same salary as men during a full year of work. While a man would receive his salary on 31 December, because of the gender pay gap a woman in Europe in 2011 would be required to work until 5 March the following year to earn the same.
This European day builds on the success of national equal pay days which take place in a number of EU Member States.
Spain organised an equal pay day on 22 February this year and Greece will host its inaugural day on 16 March. Equal pay days are planned in Germany and Belgium on 25 March, in Poland and Estonia on 12 April, in Austria on 13 April and in France on 15 April. The next equal pay day in the UK will take place on 4 November. Equal pay days have also been organised in the Netherlands in recent years.