Top French offices stop work in support of gender pay gap protest
Women’s rights campaigners at the feminist newsletter Les Glorieuses had urged female workers to down tools from that time. They suggested that doing so until the end of the year – in effect taking 38.2 days off – would highlight the global wage disparity that experts say will not disappear until 2186.
“From 7 November at 16.34 [and seven seconds] women will be working ‘voluntarily’,” Les Glorieuses wrote, referencing research that women work for free, compared with men, for a certain time of the year.
according to rapporteur rport from guardian, link ,The activists had not intended to spark demonstrations with their call to protest, which reached 2 million people through the social media service Thunderclap.
However, the idea captured imaginations and sparked spontaneous street rallies. At Place de la République in central Paris, scores of women turned out, many with placards, to support the protest.
At City Hall, Anne Hidalgo, the city’s first female mayor, suspended a meeting of the city council at 4.34pm as a show of solidarity. Staff at the Musée d’Orsay and several newspapers, including Le Monde, stopped work and gathered for pictures.
The education minister, Najat Belkacem, formerly minister for women’s rights, backed the strike. “The fight for pay equality involves the whole of society. We cannot wait until 2186,” she tweeted.
Laurence Rossignol, the current women’s rights minister, welcomed the initiative and said she had no problem with women in her office stopping work to take part in the protest. “When women protest, they make visible what is invisible … I support them,” she told Le Parisien.
The organisation Osez le Féminisme (Dare to be Feminist) has demanded that French companies face fines if they do not respect equal pay laws.
There are just under 13.8 million working women in France, making up 48% of the total workforce. Eurostat figures for 2014 show men’s salaries are about 15.1% higher than women’s.
Across Europe, women earn on average 16.1% less than men in equivalent jobs. According to the Equal Pay Portal, the average gender pay gap in the UK fell from 19.3% in 2015 to 18.1% in April 2016.
The French protest follows a similar move in Iceland on 24 October, when thousands of women left work at 2.38pm to demonstrate against the 14% wage inequality in the country.
“It is a strong sign and we are joining the protest,” said Les Glorieuses. “This difference in salaries hides other inequalities. Women also do unpaid work, like household tasks.”
Les Glorieuses urged all French women to take part in the protest on Monday. “We represent almost half of the working population and 52% of the total population. We don’t want to wait until 2186 for equal salaries. We do not wish to wait 170 years for this parity.”
On the group’s Facebook page dedicated to the protest, there were calls for nationwide demonstrations including at Place de la République and in Lyon and Nantes. The group also called for a display of solidarity on social networks.
Rebecca Amsellem, 28, the co-founder of Les Glorieuses, said the response had taken her by surprise.
“I’m extremely happy that a lot of people took up this issue and made time to show their support,” she told the Guardian. “It’s good that we are thinking about women’s rights outside of Women’s Day.
“We wanted to raise awareness of the issue of unequal pay in France. It’s not about imposing anything on anyone. It’s about saying that we want everyone, men, women, CEOs, government people to grasp this subject and do whatever they can at their level. If you don’t want to wait 170 years for equal pay, there are a few things you can do.”