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This German city is going to mark Equal Pay Day in a truly unique way

Posted by
Rachel Brown
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Do you like taking the bus? How about taking the bus at an affordable price? And how about taking the bus in a way that acknowledges gross gender inequality? Well, women of Berlin, you need look no further…

PSA: it’s 2019, and women are still earning less than men. 

It’s no secret that the gender pay gap exists. And no, it’s not some mythical illusion perpetrated by lying feminists that only appears when you say “inequality” three times in the mirror. It’s very much real, and it is very much something women around the world deal with on a daily basis. 

It would make sense to think that, hopefully in 2019, the gap would be lessening, if not diminishing all together. However, in updated statistics from February this year, it seems the disparity is more than just apparent: it’s alive and kicking throughout Europe.

While many countries across the continent have evident work to do to close their respective gaps, it is Germany in particular which stands out as problematic: their gender pay gap sits at an especially high figure of 21%.

Women of Berlin will have their commuter costs cut by 21% this Monday

A little bit of quick maths tells us that a gender pay gap of this magnitude means a woman in Germany has to work 442 days in order to earn as much as man does in his 365. That’s a 77 day difference. Should women really have time to work 77 days for free just to break financially even with their male counterparts? 

We don’t think so. And it’s clear Berlin’s transport system (BVG) doesn’t think so either. In a global first, the operator system will be issuing a gender specific ticket on Monday 18 March to mark ‘Equal Pay Day’ and draw attention to the gross imbalance. 

The ‘Frauenticket’ (that’s ‘female ticket’ to non-German speakers) will be available on Monday for one day only, permitting women to ride the metro, buses, or trams at a fee reduced by 21%. And, while one day hardly fixes the seismic matter of pay inequality throughout the country, the stunt is expected to draw attention to the non-optional added-extras women have to pay daily; commuting costs will, for that one day, reflect the monetary inequality women deal with daily.

The move has been largely lauded on social media by women throughout Germany as a great way of highlighting the issue and sparking a conversation around the gap. 

However, it goes without saying that some men have complained about the initiative. “Will women have to get off the train five stops earlier because they live an average five years longer than men?” quipped one.

Responding to these comments, Petra Nelken, a BVG spokesperson, said: “We knew we would be badmouthed for this. 

“Of course this price gap feels unfair. But that’s the whole point: just for a day we just wanted to make the big pay gap feel tangible in ticket form. This is what women are up against every day.”

When prompted on Twitter, BVG also stressed that this initiative is transinclusive, and everyone who identifies as female in Berlin will have access to the ticket, which is set to expire at 3am the next day.

The company has since issued a statement regarding their own pay statistics, and the intentions for their workers, noting that all their female staff earn equal pay to their men. In it, they state that, by 2022, they aim to increase the proportion of women in their staff from under 20% to 27%.

This plan follows earlier city-wide power moves, as Berlin also issued a public holiday this month to mark International Women’s Day. Alongside the Frauenticket, it seems that the city is seriously attempting to start a dialogue about women’s rights. 

Images: Getty