PES Women campaign launch focuses on real stories of frontline workers

Today, 20 February, PES Women marks European Equal Pay Day by highlighting that the EU gender pay gap is still as big as 14.1%.

In the context of COVID-19, this year we are launching the #MakerHerCount campaign to call attention to the fact that women are working at their maximum while receiving only the minimum of pay and recognition. Applause and empty words are not enough. PES Women wants Europe to show that women’s contributions count.

PES Women President Zita Gurmai said:

“European women need a pay rise. Women are on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic and it is time their work is recognised and paid properly. Guaranteeing fair wages across Europe is a priority for the PES family. This must be coupled with efforts to create a Care Deal for Europe and targeted measures to raise wages for female-dominated sectors, especially in the social, health, long-term care, and childcare sectors.

“In our collective response to this pandemic, we have the chance to build back better for gender equality. We must seize this opportunity to not only recover our economies as they were before the crisis, but work to make them better for women and men alike and close the gender pay gap at the same time. What we need is a feminist economy for Europe. It is time to make her count.”

The PES Women #MakeHerCount campaign launch features real stories from frontline workers from across Europe, like Noora – an elderly care nurse from Finland, Anna – a paediatric nurse from Germany, and many others. We asked women how the pandemic has impacted their jobs and work-life-balance, how their work is being recognised and remunerated, and what they would like to see changed.

Women make up the majority of frontline workers in essential sectors that are keeping our society afloat during this pandemic, such as childcare and education, health and long-term care, cleaning and domestic services and the commercial and service industry. Many of them work for minimum pay, despite shouldering a heavy responsibility and exposing themselves and their families to health risks.

According to UN Women, women make up 70% of healthcare workers globally yet earn 11% less than their male colleagues. In Europe, women make up 58% of all minimum wage earners. Also, in our homes, women typically shoulder more responsibility for home schooling, household and family care work, many while teleworking. Yet, this extra work receives too little recognition, no pay, and contributes to a disproportionately high number of women working on part-time, precarious contracts.

Horizontal labour market segregation (which means that more women than men tend to work in low-paid sectors) is a major factor behind the gender pay gap. Europe must improve pay and working conditions in women-dominated sectors, ensure pay transparency and access to upskilling and life-long learning, and combat stereotypes to encourage more men to work in care, education, hospitality etc. and more women in STEM.

About the #MakeHerCount campaign

  • European Equal Pay Day marks the point when women catch up with men’s earnings from the previous year. Women need to work an additional 51 days, or 14.1% of the year, to earn the same as their male colleagues.
  • Over the next fortnight in the build-up to 8 March, PES Women will highlight  that women in all their diversity count, starting with frontline workers, including: Anna – a paediatric nurse from Germany, Christina and Lydia – travel agents from Spain, Mária – a social worker from Hungary, Marija – a healthcare student from Austria, Noora – an elderly care nurse from Finland, Sonja – a specialist nurse from Germany, domestic workers from the trade union Sintraimagra in Colombia, Žana – a nurse from Lithuania, Vera – a specialist nurse from Portugal, Veselina – a waitress from Bulgaria, Luz – a teacher from Colombia, and many others.
  • For more information about PES Women, visit: