Debate hears women often in lower-paid jobs, doing unpaid work

Ljubljana – There is a feeling in Slovenia that women are equal to men, but in reality they are not, heard a debate held by the ZSSS confederation of trade unions on Tuesday, International Women’s Day. Women often work in jobs that pay less, while doing unpaid care work too, the participants noted.

ZSSS head Lidija Jerkič pointed out at the start of the event that the level of gender equality in Slovenia today was not the result of the last two centuries, but of the last 30-40 years.

Yet some of the lowest-paid professions are still highly feminised, and there are fewer women in the highest-paid and most powerful jobs. Women have to work much harder and endure much more to get the same position as men, but by persevering they are changing stereotypes, Jerkič said.

What followed was a round-table debate on work-life balance with Živa Humer from the NGO Peace Institute, who explained that inequalities crystallised especially during the coronavirus pandemic, when women took over a larger share of household chores and child care compared to men.

Slovenia is among the leading European countries in terms of full-time employment of women with children, but the country also has a very high share of women who take care of elderly relatives, use holidays and time off for this purpose, and in some cases even quit their jobs because of that, Humer said.

Matija Drmota from the ZSSS noted that by 2 August this year, EU member states must transpose into national law the work-life balance directive, which aims, among other things, to promote women’s participation in the labour market, the equal sharing of care work and the elimination of pay disparities.

Representing the business world in the debate, Petra Sternad of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that some companies were trying to be socially responsible by applying for the Socially Responsible Employer umbrella certificate or for a relevant sub-certificate.

As of 22 February, more than 160 companies had signed up for the project, 26% for the work-life balance certificate.

Marking International Women’s Day, the ZSSS said that this was a day of “solidarity, social commitment and hope and efforts for a better world”.

The Glosa trade union, which represents workers in culture and nature conservation, joined this sentiment, noting they support Wednesday’s strike in the education sector, where the majority of employees are women.