ECONOMY

Equal pay for women

BRUSSELS – Greece is among the countries in the European Union with the smallest gap between the salaries of men and women, according to data presented yesterday by the European Commission within the context of the European Equal Opportunities Year. The latest data available, concerning 2005, show that for the same work performed, the difference between payments to men and women throughout the Greek population is estimated at just 9 percent in the whole of the economy, against 17 percent in 1995. The worst discriminations in salary level in the EU are actually found in Cyprus, with the gap between men and women as much as 25 percent. This is somewhat improved since 1995, when the gap was wider at 29 percent. Cyprus is now on a par with Estonia. Malta ranks top with the least difference between the salaries of men and women, at just 4 percent. It is followed by Belgium (7 percent) and Slovenia (8 percent). Then it is Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Italy with 9 percent. These differences in salary level may also conceal other differences, such as the «evolution expectancy» for their career, the quality of positions actually open to men and women as well as the influence of factors such as children which obviously still burden women more than men, often becoming sources of double discrimination both between men and women and between women with children and those without. At a time of generally low birthrates in Europe, that issue shows how tough life can be for many women: If in Greece the employment rates for women are desperately low, at least there is hardly any difference between women with children and those without. Yet elsewhere, such as in Great Britain, the difference in levels of employment between mothers and childless women comes to over 20 percent. The bad news for Greece lies in the low percentage of women in high positions, at just 25 percent, while Cyprus lies last in this category, too.