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International Women’s Day – still many obstacles to overcome

International Women’s Day – still many obstacles to overcome

On March 8th in many countries around the world the International Women’s Day is celebrated. On this day women are recognized for their achievements and the divisions in national, cultural, economic, ethnic or political are disregarded.

The growing acknowledgment of women’s rights and participation in the economic arena has been strengthened by four global United Nations women’s conferences. However, there is still a long way to go before women can be economically equal to men.

We hate to kill the buzz of the euphoria on this important day for women across the globe, but the truth is that economically there is still so much inequality that women face every day.

Another 63 years until full equality is reached

The most important of all is the wage. If wages develop as they have in recent years, women in the European Union will not earn as much as men for more than 63 years according to the calculations of Bloomberg using figures from the European statistics office Eurostat. The Eurostat’s data show that across the EU the progress on closing the gender pay gap gas slowed. Although men’s and women’s wages have been creeping closer together at the end of 2021, the average difference between men’s and women’s gross hourly earnings was 12.7 per cent, 0.2 percentage points less than the year before. Figures for 2022 are not yet available, but you can do the math.

At the current rate it will take women another 63 years until full equality is reached. So, by the time our (grand)daughters, born this year, reach their pension they will earn the same as a man.

Pay gap

How big the gender pay gap is varies by country. According to Eurostat in the Netherlands the gap is 13.5 per cent – equal to the average of all EU countries. In Estonia, the gap is the widest at 20.5 per cent.

Kudos to Luxembourg though. In Luxembourg women earned 0.2 per cent more than their male compatriots in 2021.

In November 2022 we have published an article on the  Pay gap , triggered by the Wehkamp-case in which we highlighted that Equal Pay Day, 13th November in the Netherlands,  does not only mark the necessity to pay equal for both men and women, but also marks the date from which women effectively work “for free” for the remaining days of the calendar compared to their male counterparts. As the pay gap varies from country to country, Equal Pay Day falls on a different date in all countries, and the date can also vary from year to year. The smaller the pay gap, the later in the year Equal Pay Day falls.

We had also informed our readers that the Dutch House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) would continue the consideration on a Gender Pay Equality Bill which was submitted on March 7th, 2019. However, until today, more than 4 years later, the Bill has not yet been passed by the House of Representatives.

New rules on wages

All hope is now vested on the European Union. New rules on wages will be voted on in the EU this month. This will include equal pay for men and women.

If the new measures are adopted, employers will have to publish information on pay gaps, for example – one of the proposals in the Bill yet to be considered by the House of Representatives.

There is also some good news to share. In a bid to fight the inequality on 1 January 2022 the Law on ingrowth quota and targets (Diversiteitswet) was introduced the Netherlands. This law, also known as the ‘women’s quota’, aims to ensure a more balanced male-female ratio at the top of the corporate sector. Most well-known is the quota of at least 1/3 men and 1/3 women on the supervisory board (Raad van Commissarissen (RvC)).

The law is broader than that.

In 2023, for instance, companies will have to start reporting on the application of the law for the first time. Is your company already prepared for this?

We’re here for you

ACG International is specialized and experienced in assisting companies in all kinds of employment and corporate issues. ACG International’s managing partner, Edith Nordmann, is a corporate and commercial lawyer and has an expert qualification in labour law. She has been working as a lawyer in the field for over twenty years and can offer practical and strategic advice in commercial law and corporate law matter and about employment contracts as well as help you manage employment issues and maximize your compliance with various (new) legislation.

If you want to learn more about how to start reducing inequality in an efficient way on the business floor you are at the right place. ACG International offers free “labour-transparency-check” strategy sessions to help employers assess what needs to be done to achieve labour transparency.

To book your free “labour-transparency-check” Strategy Session, send an email to  or call us at +31 20 800 64 00.



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