Belgian Presidency Conference on Gender Equality, 25-26 October 20101

In 2008, the salary gap between men and women stood at 18% on average within the European Union. This salary gap comes from various causes of professional inequalities in the employment market.

The aim of the Conference organized by the Belgian Presidency was to examine effective action strategies in the fight against the salary gap at national and European levels.

The Conference brought together around 150 participants from various national government departments in charge of gender equality policies, civil society, business and trade unions. Both ETUC and ITUC/PERC took part in the conference together with representatives of trade unions in Europe: Poland/Solidarnosc, LO Denmark, LO Norway, FGTB, LDF /Lithuania, etc. Belgian presidency was represented by the Vice Prime Minister, Joelle Milquet and the European Commission by its Vice-President, Viviane Reding . The next European presidency –Hungary was represented by Miklos Rethelyi, Minister for Equal Opportunities .
The Conference started with the presentation of the European report on the salary gap situation in the 27 Member States and followed by a discussion on the causes of the pay gap. This discussion was followed by establishing the possible responses to the salary gap issue, action strategies of the Member States action strategies of the social partners ( Business Europe, UEAPME, ETUC, CEEP) and effective specific actions in the European countries.
The Conference established guidelines for action and concrete commitments towards the elimination of the salary gap in the European Union.

The main conclusions of the Conference and the actions to be undertaken:

*establish integrated transversal strategies to tackle the various causes of the pay gap
*reinforce legislation on gender pay gap
*ensure transparency on the level of wages ( job classification generalized for all sectors, negotiation with social partners)
*eliminate vertical segregation ( increase visibility of women in decision-making position; a discussion on quotas following the example of the Nordic States))
*combat stereotypes in education and media
*work life balance; increase child care services, Barcelona objectives to be reinforced; parental leave to be enjoyed by both parents
*decrease the Pay gap; regular monitoring of regulations
*national programs to be developed
*organization of the European Equal Pay Day on early basis

The main ideas will be included in the conclusions adopted by the EPSCO Council in December 2010.

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