EU member states must ensure the boards of pensions institutions are balanced in terms of gender, an MEP has argued in a report for the European Parliament’s select committee for Women’s Rights & Gender Equality.

Sirpa Pietikäinen, Finnish MEP for the Christian Democrats EVP, board members and people in key positions must not only be professional and reliable but also have a sense of gender issues.

Risk management and audit functions must be implemented with equal treatment of both sexes in mind, according to amendments proposed by Pietikäinen.

The same should go for remuneration policy and financial provisions.

The report said women in the EU received, on average, 39% less of a pension than men did, due to part-time jobs and career interruptions for familial reasons.

It added that women also tend to work in different sectors, which can often lead to lower pensions.

The report concluded that a disproportionate number of women were poor at old age, as they accrued less and lived longer.

It warned that, the greater the emphasis on the second pillar, the greater the pensions gap between the sexes will be (difference is smaller within the first pillar).

The report also suggested that a closer link between contributions and benefits would put women at a disadvantage because they often earn less or leave the labour process temporarily.

Pietikäinen therefore proposed that the European Commission conduct a survey into the effects of the various pillars and systems on both men and women.

Based on the outcome, it should take action and formulate proposals for structural reforms to guarantee equal pensions, she said.

Pietikäinen also stressed that improved communication was extra important, “as women have less financial knowledge on average”.

She said communications should focus on the effects a part-time job or temporary absence from the work force could have on their pensions.

The European Parliament’s select committee is to discuss Pietikäinen’s report next week.