Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier supports the cause behind Equal Pay Day, which will be observed for the second time in Germany on 20 March 2009. A diverse action coalition hopes to use this "day of commemoration" to raise awareness about the large gap between men and women's wages in Germany – and to close it.
Commenting on the goal of Equal Pay Day, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued the following statement today (19 March):
"Equal pay for equal work – this seems obvious, but is far from the reality. Tomorrow's Equal Pay Day is a reminder that in our country, too, there are still considerable differences between men and women's wages.
Our common aim must be to create the conditions that allow us to close this wage gap. These conditions include a better balance between work and family, more women in scientific and technical jobs and, last but not least, a much higher number of women in management-level positions in politics and business.
I consider progress in these areas essential in order to advance the modernization of our country and secure its future competitiveness."
The idea behind Equal Pay Day comes from the United States, where it was started in the mid-90s by the American organization Business and Professional Women.
There is a gap between men and women's wages in all European countries. By European standards, Germany does poorly: The average difference between men and women's earnings in the EU member states is 17.4 percent. In Germany the wage gap is 23 percent.
There are a number of reasons for this: women are often low-earners, they work in branches that pay less and it is rarer for them to be in well-paid management positions.