Commission tells European males to shape up

// 18 July 2007

The European Commission has warned that men must take on more housework and childrearing duties, in order to help close the pay gap, EUObserver reports.

Europe-wide, women earn 15% less than men, only a 2% improvement in the last decade.

“There is this fundamental imbalance between professional life and personal obligation,” EU employment commissioner Vladimír Spidla said, addressing a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday (18 July). He added that “women tend to bear the brunt and this obviously has an effect on their career and on their wage levels.”

And who can be surprised that salaries remain so unbalanced, when you consider this data on the time spent by men and women on unpaid work in the home:

According to the EU executive, men contribute to seven hours of unpaid work each week – such as taking care of households as well as children and other dependents. Women in part-time positions on an average spend 35 hours per week while women in full-time positions spend 24 hours of such unpaid work per week.

Unfortunately, other than urging European men to pull their socks up, the Commission has not come out with any detailed proposals as to how to change the situation. It does have some suggestions though:

In the communication the Commission sets out ways in which the EU can bridge the gender pay gap. It wants the 27 member states to set objectives and deadlines to eradicate the gap, and will also push for equal pay to be made a condition for winning public contracts.

The EU executive wants to make fighting the pay gap an integral part of member states’ employment policies, to promote equal pay among employers, support exchange of good practices across the bloc and ensure that EU capitals have implemented existing rules well.

For those who are curious about this politician in charge of employment equality issues at the Commission, Spidla (pictured) is a former Czech prime minister. He has a blog and website, where you can view exciting EU-funded YouTube (or EUTube – euk) videos about diversity.

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