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#MakeHerCount for Equal Pay

On 20 February, PES Women marks European Equal Pay Day by highlighting that the EU gender pay gap is still as big as 14.1%. In the context of COVID-19, the #MakerHerCount campaign draws attention to the fact that women are working at their maximum while receiving only the minimum of pay and recognition. Applause and empty words are not enough. PES Women wants Europe to show that women’s contributions count.

Women make up the majority of frontline workers in essential sectors that are keeping our society afloat during this pandemic, such as childcare and education, health and long-term care, cleaning and domestic services and the commercial and service industry. Many of them work for minimum pay, despite shouldering a heavy responsibility and exposing themselves and their families to health risks. For example, according to UN Women, women make up 70% of healthcare workers globally yet earn 11% less than their male colleagues. In Europe, women make up 58% of all minimum wage earners. At the same time, in our homes, women are shouldering the maximum of responsibility for home schooling, household and family care work, many while teleworking. Yet, this extra work receives too little recognition, no pay, and contributes to a disproportionately high number of women working on part-time, precarious contracts.

Our #MakeHerCount campaign features real stories by real frontline workers from across Europe, likeNoora, Anna, Vera, Marija, Sonja, Christina and Lydia, Veselina, Mária, Žana, Luz Elena and more. We asked them how the pandemic has impacted their jobs and work-life-balance, how their work is being recognised and remunerated, and what they would like to see changed.

Read the press release

Check all the videos from frontline workers


PES Women calls for:

  • Targeted measures at EU and national level to fight horizontal labour market segregation. The fact that more women than men tend to work in low-paid sectors is a major factor behind the gender pay gap. Improving pay and working conditions in women-dominated sectors, ensuring access to upskilling and life-long learning, while combatting stereotypes to encourage more men to work in care, education, hospitality etc. and more women to work in STEM, should be a priority.
  • Gender mainstreamed national recovery and resilience plans with adequate investments in female-dominated sectors to protect women’s jobs and economic independence during and after the pandemic.
  • A binding EU Pay Transparency Directive which contains credible sanctions for non-compliance by companies and binding equal pay targets per member state and age group to completely eliminate the gender pay and pension gaps by 2030. Both targets should be monitored through mandatory equal pay plans and pay gap audits. It should also include standardised rules for data collection and guidelines for determining what counts as ‘work of equal value’.
  • A Care Deal for Europe, including increased investments in raising wages for care workers and improving access to affordable and quality healthcare, childcare and long-term care.
  • Immediate and full implementation of the EU Work-Life Balance Directive to encourage more men to take up unpaid care responsibilities at home.
  • Strong collective bargaining and social dialogue to ensure collective rather than individual solutions to achieve equal pay.
  • EU-wide ratification and implementation of the 2011 ILO Domestic Workers Convention.


#MakeHerCount for a feminist Europe

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Building on our demands to #MakeHerCount for equal pay, PES Women are asking everyone in Europe to #MakeHerCount for International Women’s Day!

Women’s rights matter. Women count, in all their diversity. It sounds obvious, but 2020 taught us that all those rights which generations of women have fought for are fragile. Decades of progress on gender equality can be undermined in a few months – by a pandemic costing women their jobs and forcing them back into their homes. By right-wing politicians curtailing abortion rights and LGBTI rights.

So, we take the opportunity of the International Women’s Day to remind everyone that 2021 should be the year we #MakeHerCount!

Many PES progressive leaders have joined our call. Check out these videos from our President Zita Gurmai, PES President Sergei Stanishev, European Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli, Spanish government vice-president Carmén Calvo, President of the S&D Group Iratxe Gaspar, and many others, to hear their messages about making women count.

Check the videos from PES leaders 

Want to join our campaign? Share our message with the hashtag #MakeHerCount, tag PES Women and add your own story.

We want to hear how you will #MakeHerCount in 2021!