Wage difference between men and women in Latvia was 14.4% in 2013. This index has remained unchanged in the past five years. This difference is also present in the average insurance fees in wages, which reached EUR 578.24 for women in 2014 and remained unchanged for men – EUR 671.15. Another unchanged tendency is that the difference is present across all ages.
Clear difference in pay is noted in healthcare, education, consumer services, accommodation and catering services, leisure and culture. Women employed in trading earn on average 27.6% less than men. In the finance industry, on the other hand, women earn 37.7% less than men.
In some fields women do earn more than men – wages of women working in state administration were 3.3% larger than those of men at the beginning of 2015. In construction field, women make up a mere 14.8% of employed people. Usually wages of women there exceed wages of men.
Unequal wages are a result of multiple factors – stereotypes regarding jobs best done by men and women and the level of required education create a strong influence on the choice between men and women. With that, women are usually paid smaller wages than men in jobs considered traditionally meant for men. In addition, management and supervisory posts, where wages are usually higher, are filled with men – this tendency is present in the highest business posts, where the proportion of women is only 4%.
Discrimination is mainly expressed indirectly. It is not usually tied to intentional actions, but rather the stereotype that men are better at management in general and that women are better at raising children.
Because of those reasons and many others, women work part-time, which usually means lower wages, or don’t work at all – this makes it difficult for women to return to the labour market and develop their careers, which impacts their economic security in a long-term perspective. Smaller income means smaller savings, smaller pensions, limited economic independence and bigger risk of ending up in poverty.
In order to improve economic security of Latvian families, Welfare Ministry asks employers, trade unions and institutions to actively engage in processes aimed at solving this problem. Society is urged to continue discussing professional needs of men and women.
The ministry plans to support projects like Longevity Index in the future. This project is meant to reward family-friendly companies and realize measures to reduce obstacles for men and women on their way to economic independence.