Women fall farther behind in terms of pay and pension

Ireland is among a handful of countries in the EU where women are falling farther behind men in what they are paid when working, and when they retire.

Despite much more progress being made in many other countries, at the current rate it will take another 70 years for women to achieve economic equality.

Even after decades of promises and legislation, change has been very slow, and receded in some countries including Ireland during the recession, the annual report from the EU shows.

Vera Jourova, Justice and Equality Commissioner, described gender equality as “very much unfinished business” and said the realities are too often ignored, contested or even denied.

For every euro a man earns in Ireland, a woman is paid around 85 cent, down from 87 cent in 2008. However, the EU report says this does not tell the full story.

Women are disadvantaged, not just in being paid less per hour, but working fewer hours and not working in the better-paying jobs. In Ireland, the report reckons this means women are in fact 34% worse of than their male counterparts.

One of the big problems identified for Irish women is the cost of childcare.

More families are depending on women’s worth in the EU generally where now a majority of mothers, 61%, are either the main or co-breadwinner. “But the trend towards equal economic independence has come to a grinding halt or, in some cases, been reversed,” the report said.

Things have not improved much on the home front either, despite only 3% of women saying they don’t want men more involved in caring activities. Men spend just nine hours a week doing house and caring work, compared to 26 hours for working women.

As women leave the labour market and retire, discrimination is in-built into their pensions. Here, too, the gap has widened for Irish women, growing from receiving 32% less in 2008 to just over 38% less in 2012.

Irish women on the boards of the bigger public companies has increased slightly to 11% — but this is a far smaller improvement than in almost all other EU countries. Just eight countries had more women on boards than Ireland in 2010, but now 21 countries have.

The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights in the first EU-wide survey on violence against women showed it happens everywhere in every society and is alarmingly frequent.

On average, every minute in Europe, 7 women are victims of rape or other sexual assault, 25 suffer physical violence and 74 are sexually harassed. Cyber violence is growing, with 10% of women reporting online sexual harassment.

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