March 18th marks Equal Pay Day in Germany, one of the largest gender pay gaps in all of Europe. As a stunt to create awareness of the increasing gender pay gap, women will receive a 21% discount while traveling Berlin’s metro system that day. The discount is said to mirror the 21% difference in the average earnings between men and women in Germany.
The Frauenticket, a day pass that normally sells for €7 will be sold to female passengers at just €5.50 as Berlin citizens “Mind the pay gap” – the slogan for the event. The ticket, which is good until 3am the next day, is for female passengers only. Any men who are caught using the ticket will be regarded as fare dodgers.
When it comes to equal earnings, Germany falls behind other European countries like Italy and Belgium, where the gender pay gap is around 5% or less. This means that a woman in Germany would have to work 77 days for “free” just to keep up with men’s pay. March 18 would mark the 77th day if women worked a full 365 days/year and then some.
The woman-run train station, BVG, employs over 14,000 women in its staff and has plans to increase that number. Sigrid Evelyn Nikutta who runs the BVG, became its first female CEO in 2010. Since implementing the Marh 18th price gap, the company has received backlash, as expected.
According to Petra Nelken, a spokesperson for BVG, the company expected the backlash and states how she is aware of how unfair it feels 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,” she explains.