French women called to strike on International Women’s Day

Unions and women’s rights groups in France have called for a strike in protest of the country’s gender pay gap, this Wednesday for International Women’s Day.

International Women's Day in Paris, 2009.
International Women's Day in Paris, 2009. AFP/Boris Horvat

Organisers have called on women to walk out of their jobs at 3.40pm, as that’s the time in an average eight-hour work day that they effectively stop being paid compared to their male colleagues.

In France, women are paid roughly 20 percent less than men, according to French national statistics bureau Insee.

Why is there a gender pay gap?

Women are more likely to work in fields that offer smaller salaries overall, such as civil service, education and certain healthcare areas like caretaking and nursing.

But even women with university degrees, in middle and upper management positions, are affected by the gender pay gap.

Women managers and executives are paid roughly 10 percent less than their male counterparts in France.

So for the same full-time job, in the same sector, and at the same age, some women are still paid less than men.

The gender pay gap can also be explained by the fact that 80 percent of France's part-time workers are women. The less hours they put in, the less money they earn.

Unequal distribution of household chores

One of the reasons women are more likely to have part-time jobs than men is because they spend twice as much time on domestic tasks than their male partners, according to a 2015 Insee study. This includes taking care of children.

The study also showed that when men decide which chores to do, they generally choose things like home maintenance and gardening, which means that women are still mostly assigned to chores like cleaning and cooking.

Domestic and sexual violence

Women are more likely to be victims of domestic violence.

In 2015, 122 women were killed by their partner, compared to 22 men, according to Insee.

Domestic violence, however, is underreported in France. Only 14 percent of women abused by their partner filed a police report in 2015.

Women are also more likely to be victims of sexual harassment, assault and rape.

In a 2009 study by l’Institut national d’études démographiques (Ined), one in seven women reported that they had experienced sexual violence in their lifetime, compared to one in 25 men.

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