European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions
Together for decent work and fair pay from farm to fork

International Women’s Day 2014: Policy-makers and employers must enhance efforts so that women and men can develop their potential on an equal basis


International Women’s Day on 8 March marks a timely occasion to remember that the EU is only halfway towards achieving gender equality, according to the first EU Gender Equality Index launched in June 2013.

The European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT) is particularly concerned by this unsatisfactory assessment, as tourism and the food and drink manufacturing and processing industry employ more women than other sectors.

Women are paying a higher price than men for the financial – and social – crisis, and achieving gender equality in Europe remains a major challenge in most workplaces.

The crisis has particularly hit young women, who are more likely than young men to be neither in employment, education nor training (NEETs), according to the European Commission’s annual report on progress on equality between women and men. Young women also more often start in the doubly fragile position of a temporary, part-time job.

Gender gaps in employment and pay have narrowed in the last five years, yet gender equality remains elusive. According to Eurostat, women’s gross hourly earnings in the EU are, on average, 16% below those of men. Moreover, due to women’s higher prevalence of part-time work and career interruptions, the gender pay gap accrues over life. As most pension systems base their pension calculations on wage earnings, the average pension gap is 39%, more than twice as large as the gender pay gap.

With these statistics in mind, EFFAT calls on EU policy-makers and employers to scale up actions so that women and men can develop their potential on an equal basis.

“Ahead of the European Parliament elections in May, candidates must demonstrate their commitment to ensure that half of Europe’s human capital is not lost,” said Harald Wiedenhofer, EFFAT General Secretary.

EFFAT members continue to implement the EFFAT Gender Equality Plan, which sets out goals to boost women’s participation in decision-making bodies, implement gender mainstreaming, and reduce the pay gap between men and women.

Media contact: Dominique Mitchell +32 490 56 94 05 or

EFFAT is the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions. As a European Trade Union Federation representing 120 national trade unions from 35 European countries, EFFAT defends the interests of more than 22 million workers towards the European Institutions, European employers’ associations and transnational companies. EFFAT is a member of the ETUC and the European regional organisation of the IUF.