Cypriot women make 13.9% less per year than men, Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou said on Thursday invoking Eurostat figures.
This practically means that women work around two months per year for free, compared to men, Commissioner for Gender Equality Maria Stylianou-Lottidi added.
Both state officials were speaking during a Forum for Wage Equality organised by the Department of Labour Relations, the Ombudswoman and the Gender Equality Committee.
“Today’s forum is an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to wage equality and eliminating the gender gap,” the Minister said.
The wage gap can create chain reactions as it can lead to social problems, she added. “We must not forget that the wage gap translates into lower pensions and increases the risk of poverty.”
Despite the financial crisis, Cyprus was the country with the 9th largest decrease in the wage gap in the EU between 2013-2016, the Minister added, saying that Cyprus has a lower wage gap rate (13.9%) than the EU average of 16% (2016 statistics).
The project “Actions for reducing the gender pay gap” which run from 2010 to 2015 had a large role to play in this, the Minister argued.
More changes needed – women less likely to hold high positions in business, politics
“Structural changes and changes in our mentality, regarding how we view what the two genders can do and what is expected from them,” are necessary, Ombudswoman Stylianou-Lottidi added.
“Women make low wages during the most productive years of their lives. This is translated to lower pensions in their later years, which perpetuates women’s economic dependence on their husbands and partners,” the Ombudsowman said.
Women are most unlikely to occupy higher positions in business and politics, Commissioner for Gender Equality Maria Stylianou-Lottidi said and presented figures which show that women make 17.8% of the boards of directors in EU’s big companies, 2.8% of CEO’s, 27% of state ministers and 27% of members of parliament.
She also explained that a law that came into force in January 2018 makes it necessary for companies which employ more than 25 people to prove that they offer equal wages to women and men who do the same jobs.
The aim is to eliminate the pay gap by 2022, she said.