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July 2011

Widening the gender gap: a report on women's pay and jobs in Europe

A new study by the LRD shows that cuts in pay and jobs in public sector have widened the gap between men's and women's pay.

The study, carried out for the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), looked at the position in four EU states which have cut pay in the public sector, Ireland, Latvia, Spain and Romania. It found that in all four states employment in the public sector is crucial for overall women's employment and that, as a result, cuts in pay and jobs have a major effect on the position of women. Despite this, none of the governments involved had assessed how their policies of cutting public sector pay and jobs specifically affected women.

Figures for Latvia and Romania, the only two states that provide up-to-date statistics on men's and women's pay, indicate that one consequence of the cuts in public sector pay and jobs is that the overall gender pay gap has widened - in Latvia from 15.2% in 2008 to 16.9% in 2011 and in Romania from 7.8% in 2008 to 12.6% in 2010.

The report also highlights the fact that cuts have had a direct effect on equality structures, with the Ministry of Equality being abolished in Spain and funding for programmes for women being sharply reduced in Ireland.

The executive summary is available on the EPSU website at www.epsu.org/a/7891 and the full report can also be downloaded from


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