International Day of Older Persons - Mind the gender gap when reforming pensions!

PRESS RELEASE                                                                                                                                                                                       Brussels, 30 September 2010


International Day of Older Persons, 1st October



Mind the gender gap when reforming pensions!


AGE urges EU governments to avoid creating additional sources of gender inequality by assessing and addressing the impact that their pension reforms will have on the many women who have to adapt their professional career to their family responsibilities.


With the ongoing retreat of the welfare state, governments are looking for solutions to reduce pressure on public budgets, including from pension systems. The current crisis has only intensified the trend, forcing governments to introduce further budgetary cuts. This in turn leads to a reduction of redistributive elements within pension systems and the introduction of tighter links between contributions and pension benefits without a fair compensation for legitimate career breaks such as care provision.

Most women are negatively affected by their fertility history, as well as by their informal caring responsibilities which restrict their access to good quality and full-career employment.“In other words, if pension benefits and old-age income depend directly on the worker’s contribution, most women will get much lower benefits than men when they retire”, says Anne-Sophie Parent, AGE Director.

So far, however, little attention has been paid to assess the ultimate impact of the proposed pension reforms on women and their future old-age income. “The majority of older people are women and the highest poverty rates among elderly people are concentrated among very old women. This is why when reforming the pension systems it is absolutely essential to take account of the gender impact.” insists Anne-Sophie Parent. Combating gender discrimination in the labour market, especially by reducing the career and pay gap, will be particularly important in this respect. “This is equally important for women with no individual or survivor’s rights to contributory pension schemes, and it is absolutely necessary to provide an adequate non-contributory income safety net to prevent them from falling into poverty”, concludes Anne-Sophie Parent.

On the occasion of the International Day of Older People and in the context of the 2010 European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, AGE members are calling on national governments to address all causes of gender inequalities in access to social protection. Ensuring adequate pension rights including for those with justified career breaks – mainly women – must be the policy priority in the EU in order to guarantee a dignified life in old age for both women and men.


Link to AGE latest Press Release on pensions:

Link to AGE Statement on Pensions (October 2009):




Press release in pdf format

Communiqué de presse en français

Thursday 30 September 2010
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