Former Italian pensions minister calls for more gender equality

A former Italian Minister of Pensions and Gender Equality, Elsa Fornero, has called out for more policies in Italy to promote gender equality in retirement.

Speaking at the G7 Pensions Forum ESG Summit held online today, 11 June, Fornero said it has been traditionally seen that if you are a woman “there will always be some man providing for you” but to consider gender equality seriously, welfare needs to start at the beginning of life, in terms of equality of opportunities. However, there is a lot of social change that is required to achieve this, she noted.

“Women are disadvantaged because they have more interruptions, more unequal pay, still a divide is there… and then there are all the difficulties in career progression. This means that even when women work, they work typically in disadvantaged conditions in respect to men and they can save less for their own retirement. This is accompanied by pension reforms, almost everywhere, that have accentuated the correlation at the individual level between contributions paid and benefits received,” she said.

Although she personally approves of this defined contribution method, as it’s “more transparent”, she said it does not mean that we can forget the difficulties concentrated on women because their career is “more difficult” than men’s.

“What I propose is a change in the kind of solidarity that we have applicated up to now,” she said, stating the current policies in place for women such as survivor’s pension or minimum pension.

“What should be done instead, and this would be a true solidarity, based on progressive taxation, is that during the working career, a period of absence, of unemployment, of absence for care, should be paid out of general taxation, exactly because general taxation is progressive and this is a form of solidarity, while payroll taxes are generally proportionate to labour income, and so are not progressive.”

She believes this would mean women would have a more adequate pension upon retirement age.

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