Prohibition of Discrimination

II. Gender-based Discrimination

Gender equality index, European Institute for Gender Equality, 2013, EIGE.

In 2013, the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson's Office conducted 34 investigations into possible discrimination on the ground of gender, i.e. almost half as much as in 2012. The majority of the investigations (68%) concerned employment relationships.[1] A whopping 88 investigations into possible discrimination on the ground of gender (representing 35% of all investigations) were carried out in 2014 – this was the greatest annual number of complaints in the last decade. Furthermore, last year saw an increasing number of men bringing their complaints regarding discrimination on the ground of gender.[2]

In 2013, the European Institute for Gender Equality presented a composed gender equality index, in which Lithuania placed 18th out of the 27 European Union Member States. The Index was prepared after assessing the indicators for both sexes in six core domains (work, money, knowledge, time, power, health) and two satellite (intersecting inequalities and violence).[3] The gender equality index score for Lithuania was 43.6 (with 1 representing complete and total gender inequality and 100 representing complete gender equality). The closest to gender equality was Sweden (74.3), while the country most lagging behind was Romania (35.3). The overall index score for EU was 54. It should be noted that, with reference to the financial resources criterion, used to calculate not only wages, but also other income, the index score of Lithuania was only 26.8 – among the lowest in the European Union.[4]

According to the 2014 Global Gender Gap indexed, published by the World Economic Forum, Lithuania is 44th out of 142 states – however, with respect to the ability of women to participate in politics, Lithuania only places 65th. Northern European countries were firmly at the top of the list prepared by the World Economic Forum.[5]

A study in 2014 found that public opinion on the reconciliation of work and family life was changing in a positive direction – male and female respondents of all age groups expressed their disagreement with preferential treatment of men when applying for work. Residents of Lithuania tend to adopt a symmetrical family model, where both spouses are employed and collectively take care of the home and their children. [6]

According to Statistics Lithuania, the wage gap in the country between women and men was 12.5% in 2013 and, compared to 2012, increased by 0.5%. The greatest wage gap between women and men in 2013 was still found within financial service and insurance companies (39.9%), also in information and communication companies (27.8%) and manufacturing companies (27.7%); vehicle repair and motorcycle repair companies each exhibited a gap of 22%, with the gap in other service companies being 20.9%.[7]

Women head less than a third of all companies operating in Lithuania. A public survey shows that it is significantly easier for a man to become the head of the company than it is for a woman aiming for the same position.[8] Furthermore, the majority of Lithuanians would still prefer seeing a man at the helm. 56% of the respondents indicated that they would prefer working under a male boss, with only 11% preferring a woman in that role. 33% indicated not seeing a difference between having to obey orders from a male and having to obey orders from a female boss.[9]

A study of the academic community in 2013 showed that the situation with respect to gender equality is severe within the academic community. Men occupy all of the highest management positions, whereas women occupy lowest level administrative positions; women also occupy the lowest positions among academic and scientific research workers.[10]

Even though cases concerning gender-based discrimination seldom reach the Lithuanian courts, a significant victory was achieved in one case in 2014. The case concerned the dismissal of a woman from the Romanian Embassy in Lithuania after she informed her employer of her pregnancy. The Supreme Court of Lithuania confirmed that discrimination on the ground of gender had indeed occurred and returned the judgment to the Court of Appeal of Lithuania to re-examine the compensation of pecuniary and non-pecuniary loss.[11] The Court of Appeal of Lithuania awarded 50 thousand LTL (about 14.5 thousand Euro) to the claimant in pecuniary damages and 10 thousand LTL (about 2.9 thousand Euro) in non-pecuniary damages.[12]

The Law on Equal Opportunities between Women and Men was amended on 15 July 2014 by repealing the prohibition of gender-based harassment.[13] These amendments caused an uproar among non-governmental organizations. An amendment seeking to reinstate the prohibition of gender-based harassment in the Law was registered with Parliament on 28 July 2014.[14]

The majority of Lithuanians would still prefer seeing a man at the helm. 56% of the respondents indicated that they would prefer working under a male boss, with only 11% preferring a woman in that role. 33% indicated not seeing a difference between having to obey orders from a male and having to obey orders from a female boss.

It should be noted that the practice of employers asking women about their family situation and future family plans when considering them for a job is still prevalent in Lithuania. These questions bear no relevance to the qualifications of the employee or to working conditions, only giving grounds for discriminating people based on their gender or based on family roles identified with their gender; as such, employers have no right to ask existing or future employees for this information.

The Law on State pensions discriminates against men with respect to the award of second degree state pensions. The Law provides that second-degree state pensions are available to mothers who have given birth to (or adopted) 5 or more children, raised them until they were 8 years old and have provided them up with a good upbringing. [15]

The Equal Rights Ombudsperson had stated that men-fathers are placed in a less favourable situation than women-mothers, since the Law eliminates them from the list of persons eligible for second-degree state pensions; this applies even when they have raised 5 or more children, brought them up well but did not satisfy one condition – they did not give birth to them, with the children being adopted by the man and a mother instead. It was found that men-fathers are discriminated against based on their gender, and as such the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson recommended amending the Law on State Pensions.[16] A draft amendment to the law was registered in October 2014, including men as possible recipients of second-degree state pension.[17]

Findings and Recommendations

  • Even though the gap between women and men in employment is gradually decreasing, women still earn lower wages for doing the same jobs and the highest management positions are dominated by men.
  • It is recommended to set gender quotas for the management boards of state enterprises and establishments, banks and larger private companies.
  • Prevalent stereotypes regarding the role of men and women in the family influence the ability of women to pursue careers, attain management positions, and may lead to unfavourable treatment by employers (for example, in the event of pregnancy).
  • It is necessary to ensure that women and men receive the same wages for doing the same job, by carrying out inspections at the workplace and giving sanctions for infringements, and also to promote the dissemination of information on the availability of remedies for infringements.
  • It is recommended to amend the Law on Equal Opportunities between Women and Men by reinstating the prohibition against harassment in the workplace, also including provisions on the preparation and implementation of compulsory equal treatment plans in both the public and the private sectors.
  • It is recommended to amend the Law on State Pensions to include men if they otherwise satisfy the requirements of the Law, thus ensuring women and men have an equal right to receive second-degree state pensions.

[1] Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson's Office, Activity Report 2013, pub. 2014, p. 31-32, http://lygybe.lt/lt/metines-tarnybos-ataskaitos.html

[2] Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson's Office, "For the fourth year in a row, men in 2014 were more prone to submitting complaints regarding discrimination. Most complaints related to gender", 13 January 2015. http://lygybe.lt/lt/naujienos/pranesimai-ziniasklaidai/2014-m.-ketvirtus-chkd.html

[3] European Institute for Gender Equality, Gender Equality Index, 2013, http://eige.europa.eu/lt/content/gender-equality-index

[4] Eglė Digrytė, "Gender equality in Lithuania not only lags behind Scandinavians, but also behind the EU average", 15min.lt, 25 July 2013, http://www.15min.lt/naujiena/aktualu/lietuva/lyciu-lygybes-srityje-lietuvai-dar-toli-ne-tik-iki-skandinavu-bet-ir-iki-es-vidurkio-56-356498

[5] "Gender equality can only be expected in 2095", 15min.lt, 1 November 2014, http://www.15min.lt/naujiena/aktualu/pasaulis/lyciu-lygybes-galima-tiketis-tik-2095-metais-57-463432

[6] Social Innovation Fund, review of the study "Women and Men in Lithuanian Society 2014", 2014, http://lmlo.lt/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Tyrimo-apvalga.pdf

[7] Statistics Lithuania, "Wage Gap between Women and Men 2013", 9 October 2013, http://osp.stat.gov.lt/informaciniai-pranesimai?articleId=2874672

[8] Social Innovation Fund, review of the study "Women and Men in Lithuanian Society 2014", 2014, http://lmlo.lt/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Tyrimo-apvalga.pdf

[9] "Lithuanians think that men make the best directors", lrytas.lt, 8 August 2013, http://www.lrytas.lt/print.asp?k=news&id=13759471771373778782

[10] Inga Žalėnienė, Ona Gražina Rakauskienė, Danguolė Grigolovičienė, "Gender equality in the education and science system", 2013, http://lygybe.lt/lt/tyrimai-lygybes-srityje.html

[11] 11 April 2014 ruling of the Supreme Court of Lithuania in civil proceedings No. 3K-3-199/2014

[12] 4 September 2014 ruling of the Court of Appeal of Lithuania in civil proceedings No. 2A-1219/2014

[13] Law Amending Articles 4, 5, 6-1, 7 and 22 of Law No. VIII-947 on Equal Opportunities between Women and Men, 15 July 2014, No. XII-1023, https://www.e-tar.lt/portal/lt/legalAct/92f4cc80117511e4adf3c8c5d7681e73

[14] Center for Equality Advancement, "The speaker of Parliament was asked to reinstate the prohibition of harassment based on gender“, 11 September 2014, http://gap.lt/lietuvos-moterys-praso-seimo-pirmininkes-sugrazinti-draudima-priekabiauti-del-lyties/

[15] Law on State Pensions, 22 December 1994, No. I-730, Article 4(3)(1), http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter3/dokpaieska.showdoc_l?p_id=462678

[16] Reference No. (14)-SN-13 of the Equal Opportunities "On the Provisions of the Law on State Pensions of the Republic of Lithuania and the Award of Second-Degree Pensions to Mothers", 25 March 2014, No. (14)-SN-13, http://www.lygybe.lt/lt/pazymos/lytis_202.html

[17] Draft Law Amending Articles 4, 5, 6 of Law No. I-730 on State Pensions, 21 October 2014, XIIP-2420, http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter3/dokpaieska.showdoc_l?p_id=485442&p_tr2=2