Leading Equality

The Equal Pay Day marks the period of extra days in the current year which women need to work to achieve the same wages that men earned during the previous financial year.


Equal Pay Day recognises how much longer women have to work to earn the same as men in one year. So for every 12 months that men work, for example, women may have to work 15 months – and the end of that third month of the year is Equal Pay Day. (Equal Pay Day 2011)

We mark this day as a way of drawing attention to the wage gap that exists in most countries between women and men.

Our aim is to work towards reducing the damaging and substantial income gap between women and men, and to do this we want to encourage and motivate BPW affiliates all over the world to establish an Equal Pay Day in their own country.

Each affiliate’s first task is to put this issue on the public agenda by raising awareness about the issue of equal pay and making ‘wages’ a more acceptable subject of discussion. Only then will a country’s leaders be moved to initiate a policy review.

Your Participation

To find the percentage wage difference contact your government or bureau of statistics for the last census results. With this percentage the Equal Pay Day can be determined.

One example to calculate the Equal Pay Day could be:

  • 52 weeks per year x 5 working days per week = 260 working days per year.
  • Multiply 260 x the percentage wage difference between women and men. As a result you get the number of additional women’s working days. The last day of these additional days is the Equal Pay Day in your country.

On Equal Pay Day, take it to the streets, find supporters / allies and be part of events and activities such as these:

  • carry red purses and red bags to represent economic discrimination
  • organise information desks and activities in public areas to draw attention and get people to talk
  • ask local cafés and restaurants to promote an “Unhappy Hour” between 12 and 2 p.m. or after work and offer a discount to women on meals and drinks equal to the gender pay gap
  • use this social time to network and plan local activities that can lead to improved wages for women
  • encourage local shops to decorate their display windows with red purses
  • arrange forums and debates covering the topic of pay inequality organise workshops on how to better negotiate pay.

Allies could include - women’s organizations, national women’s councils, politicians and political parties, em- ployers, trade unions, human right organizations.

The Pay Gap

Lower wage rates mean lower lifetime earnings for women, based on full time employment. It is unrelated to equal working hours.

Equal pay means being paid equally for doing the same type of work. Being paid less is a form of dis- crimination against women and is illegal in many parts of the world.

Pay equity means being paid equally for work of equal or comparable value – it might be different work but equally valuable. Pay inequity is illegal in some countries.

Some of the reasons for pay inequity and our worsening pay gap are:

  • “women’s work” is undervalued
  • in professions where women predominate, wages are generally lower than industry standards
  • women more often work part time and in temporary jobs that have reduced hourly pay rates
  • women interrupt their careers more frequently, e.g. after pregnancy
  • women earn less than men because more men work in better-paid sectors and better-paid jobs
  • women often face a ‘glass ceiling’; they do not move on to senior positions even when they havethe same qualifications as men
  • gender role stereotypes still predominate and our workforces are often segregated into women’s work and men’s work


Dr. Bettina Schleicher, Past President BPW Germany e.V. Chair Equal Pay Day Taskforce

email: b.schleicher@js-law.de