Berlin’s public transport provider BVG will have an Equal Pay Day on March 18th, 2019. What this means is that women will pay 21 percent less for transport day tickets. That way, the BVG wants to raise awareness regarding the gender pay gap in Germany, where women earn 21 percent less than men, on average, for the same work.
A women who is being paid 21 percent less would have to work 442 days per year, in order to compensate for the gap. The difference between 442 and 365 days is 77. And the 77th day of the year is March 18th. This is the relatively complicated mathematical path which led the BVG to that date. For one single day, the transport provider wants to compensate women symbolically.
Hundreds of ticket vending machines will be programmed accordingly. On Equal Pay Day, women will pay 5.50 Euro (6.20 Dollars or 4.70 Pounds) for a “Women’s Ticket”, while men pay the usual 7 Euro (7.90 Dollars or 6 Pounds). The BVG says it was the only public transport provider in the world to offer a ticket exclusively for women.
The minute the Equal Pay Day was announced, criticism was expressed, as expected. Some men dared to say they did not want to be discriminated. Others stated they believed a public transport provider did not have the right to stage activities of this kind or educate people. But many Berliners do support Equal Pay Day.
“It is not our intention to make men feel discriminated”, the BVG said in a statement. “On the other hand: Who will apologize to the women who earn 21 percent less?” A public transport provider, obviously. “Mind the pay gap” will be the official motto on Equal Pay Day.
The BVG is involved in negotiations with the Verdi union at this stage. So far, the state-owned company has rejected all demands. Another warning strike was announced for this Friday.
Some critics suspect by organizing Equal Pay Day, the BVG might want to appear to be more likeable and social than it seems to be in its negotiations with the Verdi union.
Apart from a pay gap, there is also a rather large gender employment gap in Germany and all of Europe. In addition, women are still underrepresented in politics.