Global Labor Rights

Women in France Protest the Gender Wage Gap

Women in France intend to leave work on Monday at 4:34 pm in protest of the gender wage gap that persists in many workplaces. The move has the support of a number of high-profile French women, including women’s rights minister Laurence Rossignol who said, “When women protest, they make visible what is invisible.”

Women in France earn 15 percent less than their male peers, leaving 38.2 work days in the year when women are essentially working for free, according to the founder of the activist movement Rebecca Amsellum.

The feminist action was inspired by the protest last month in Iceland, when thousands of women walked out of work at 2:38 pm, the point in the 8-hour workday when women are no longer compensated for their work.

Amsellum points out that while the gender pay gap persists throughout Europe—with European women on average making 16 percent less than their male colleagues—gender attitudes in France leave many believing that nothing can be done about the gap. Presumptions that women are choosing to be paid less by picking certain jobs and that it is the woman’s responsibility to care for children push the blame for wage inequality onto women.

In the United States, women are paid an average of 79 cents for every dollar a man earns. For women of color the gap is much wider—African American women are paid 60 cents for every dollar a white man earns, and Latinas a paltry 55 cents. The Paycheck Fairness Act is a bill that would close the gender pay gap at the federal level, and has been blocked by Republicans in Congress four times since 2012.

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