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02.03.2012 12:00

European Equal Pay Day reminds of closing the gender pay gap

The European Union Equal Pay Day is on 2 March 2012. It aims at reminding people that a gender pay gap exists in all the EU Member States and encouraging actors to adopt measures to close that gap.

In Finland, the average pay of women is around 82 per cent of the average pay of men. The pay gap is a result of many factors: women and men to work in different sectors and in different tasks, stereotypical views on gender roles prevail, and the skills of men and women are given different values. In Finland, the government and the social partners have been trying to close the gender pay gap since 2006 through a tripartite Equal Pay Programme. The common goal is to bridge the gender pay gap to 15 per cent by the year 2015.

The Equal Pay Programme includes a variety of measures to bridge and rectify the gender pay gap. Measures such as collective agreements, introduction of new pay systems, equality plans and pay surveys, and career development of women have all reduced the gender pay gap. Despite some progress, the goal has turned out a challenging one. However, we do not intend to throw in the towel; instead, we are making efficient use of the different tools in the Equal Pay Programme.

Reaching the goal requires that the social partners adopt measures to improve pay systems, that the traditional segregation in working life is changed, and that the working life is developed. Improving the labour market status of women and introducing a more even distribution of family responsibilities promote also gender equality in working life. Dismantling gender segregation in education serves the same goal. An efficient equality plan plays an essential role for equal pay at workplaces.

Last October the social partners agreed on an extensive collective settlement that formed the basis for union-specific agreements. The framework agreement includes measures for gender equality and equal pay. In order to improve the reconciliation of work and family life, the family leave system is developed by increasing families' range of choice. The father's share of family leaves is increased by extending the paternity leave to 54 weekdays, of which no more than18 days can overlap with the maternity leave. A tripartite working group will be appointed this spring to assess the performance and development needs of pay surveys. It has also been agreed that the social partners assess the equal pay impacts of the collective agreements.

The Equal Pay Programme is an active programme that has a number of ongoing projects to develop pay systems and the working life. Topical are projects that, among other goals, focus on increasing knowledge about pay systems, improving equality of pay and agreement policies, promoting women's career opportunities, enhancing reconciliation of work and family life as well as promoting educational and career choices exempt from the traditional gender roles.

Further information
Outi Viitamaa-Tervonen, Project Manager, tel +358 9 160 70,
Paula Koskinen, Project Coordinator, tel +358 9 160 73289,

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