Published: 09th March 2021
Women have to work twice as hard to get the same salary: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on equal opportunities
The employment rate for women in Europe stands at 67 per cent, while that for men is 78 per cent
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has laid out a vision of turning Europe into a continent of equal opportunities for men and women.
"I know we are not there yet. I know that the playing field is not level yet," she said at a European Parliament event marking International Women's Day on Monday.
"I know from experience that women have to work twice as hard to get the same salary, the same recognition or the same leadership position as their male colleagues. I know the obstacles and prejudices."
She outlined the proposals presented by the European Commission last week to address what she described as "the two greatest injustices that women still face: the gender pay gap and the gender employment gap", reports Xinhua news agency.
She explained how women in Europe are paid on average 14 per cent less than men, and why the Commission proposed the Directive for Pay Transparency. The employment rate for women in Europe stands at 67 per cent, while that for men is 78 per cent. "This is simply not acceptable," von der Leyen said.
The second proposal aims to address this problem by targeting that 78 per cent of all women must have a job by the end of the decade.
She said childcare will be strengthened "because no women or men should have to choose between being a mother or father or having a career".
Monday's event also featured a video message from the US Vice President Kamala Harris, who stressed how building a world that works for women was "not just an act of goodwill", but a "show of strength".
"If we build a world that works for women, our nations will all be safer, stronger and more prosperous," she told members of the European Parliament.
Harris suggested initiatives such as ensuring women's safety at home, access to high-quality health care, treating women with dignity at work and having the right mechanisms to enable women to both care for their families and excel in the workforce.