Eliminating the gender pay gap is a prerequisite for sustainable and inclusive development, which is a core objective of the European Union’s ‘Europe 2020’ Strategy. This was the main message arising from the two-day Conference under the auspices of the Cyprus Presidency for Tackling the gender pay gap. The conference was organised by the Department of Labour Relations, on October 29-30, at the Grand Resort Hotel in Limassol.
During the conference participants exchanged best practices and measures which may be implemented by a range of actors in order to eliminate the gender pay gap. Despite years of legislative and other efforts aimed at its reduction, the average rate of the gender pay gap in the European Union is estimated at around 16.5 per cent
Participants were informed of best practices concerning the issue, while they exchanged views on past experiences of Member States and organisations, as well as the cooperation between social partners. The discussion was thematically organised around four perspectives to tackling the gender pay gap which dealt, with:
- occupational segregation;
- job classification/evaluation;
- enforcement and sanctions, and
- the relation between social dialogue and equal pay.
Participants attributed particular emphasis to the importance of promoting social dialogue and tripartite cooperation as a way of tackling the problem, while it was underlined that the principle of equal pay is an achievable target which can also contribute to business competitiveness.
Progress or Chimera?
The principle of full and effective equality between men and women is at the heart of EU policies, said Cyprus’ Minister of Labour and Social Insurance, Mrs Sotiroula Charalambous, underlining that:
"The legislative entrenchment of equality, by itself, is not enough if it is not combined with other policies and practices. Policies and effective monitoring of its implementation need to be put in place, with a view to changing attitudes and stereotypes and incorporate the principle of equality in all social and economic implications”.
She also stressed that investing in equality is necessary for achieving justice, but also for rendering women’s employment attractive with the purpose of increasing employment, economic development and raising competitiveness.
Ministers and other government officials from EU Member States, representatives from the European Commission and the European Parliament, the International Labour Organisation, the European Institute for Gender Equality and representatives of employers’ and workers’ organisations participated in the Conference.
The conference also forms part of the project ‘Actions to reduce the wage gap between men and women’, which is co-financed by the European Social Fund and the Republic of Cyprus, and is implemented by the Department of Labour Relations of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance.