Women and pensions

Why this campaign?

European population is ageing but retirement perspectives are hardly the same for men and women.

Women are being disadvantaged for contributing to society. For reasons that are often beyond their power such as the pay gap, taking care of children and the elderly and because of work in precarious and undervalued sectors, women are all too often in receipt of pensions barely above the minimum subsistence level.

The OECD’s ‘Pensions at a Glance’ for 2009 and Romanian MEP Rovana Plumb’s report on female poverty provide substance to these claims.

PES action

PES Women put pressure on European decision-makers to address this issue. PES President Zita Gurmai has met and addressed on several occasions Viviane Reding (EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship) as well as EU ministers in charge of Social and Gender policies.

In order to raise awareness to a widening pension-gap between genders, PES Women together with FEPS made this a key point of the joint seminar “Towards a new progressive thinking on gender, emancipation and feminism”, on 28 February-1 March 2011.

PES demands

  1. Gender impact assessment – such an assessment should be lead by the European Commission before elaborating its White Paper on Pensions (document containing proposals for European Union action in the domain of pensions). A gender impact assessment would clarify differences between men and women’s retirement income throughout the EU. The white paper on Pensions could then propose measures to tackle pension-gaps related to gender.
  2. Career care-credits – care-credits would provide pension benefits to women and men that opt for career-breaks or part-time work in order to take care of children or parents. However, these credits should not discourage women to engage in paid work or foster a system in which women’s caring for dependents ‘replaces’ the welfare state. This concept and its possible effects should equally be included in the Commission’s White Paper.
  3. Specific strategy to keep women over 55 on the labour market – Increasing the legal retirement age is somewhat paradoxical when so many women above fifty struggle to find or retain work due to direct discrimination based on their age. The EU should include in its strategy specific funds for older female workers’ professional training.