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Equal Pay Day: ESU is disappointed by persisting gender pay gap

BRUSSELS – National Equal Pay Day in Belgium, taking place on 25 March, highlights the fact that women still earn – on average in Europe – 17.5 per cent less than men for the same work. European Students Union’s (ESU) Chairperson Bert Vandenkendelaere said: “All around Europe, the earnings gap between men and women is deep and wide. It is time for government leaders to realise we do not live in the middle ages anymore and address this problem properly. Women deserve the same wages and rewards as men.”

Around 97 million women in Europe have been working since 1 January, but only really started getting paid on 5 March, which marked the launch of the first European Equal Pay Day, organised by the European Commission. Vandenkendelaere: “These are shocking numbers that cannot be ignored. Higher education institutions should make sure they set the right example and offer their female and male employees the same terms and conditions.”
ESU has been advocating gender equality ever since the student umbrella organisation was established, in 1982. Both in its internal policies as in its statements on higher education policies, ESU strives for true gender equality and has recently started a new campaign called “women=men–17.5%” in order to raise awareness on the current state of play.

The average height of the gender pay gap inside the European Union in 2011 is on average 17.5% ranging from 5% in Italy to 30% in Estonia. Research indicates that participation on the labour market heavily depends on the level of education. As a result, the employment rate generally rises in line with the level of education.

“This is particularly true for women. As a general rule men‘s earnings tend to be higher than those of women with the same education level, even though the graduates job incomes are quite balanced among both gender counterparts. Key to creating economic independence for women is improving female educational levels,” concluded Vandenkendelaere.


Published 25 March 2011

For more information, please contact:
Bert Vandenkendelaere, ESU Chairperson: +32473669892 or
Marianne Slegers, ESU Communications Manager: +32473669894 or


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