Leadership

EU Parliament member: Women must earn less because they are weaker, less intelligent

Janusz Korwin-Mikke participates in the 5th March of Freedom and Sovereignty on October 08, 2016 in Warsaw, Poland.
Janusz Korwin-Mikke participates in the 5th March of Freedom and Sovereignty on October 08, 2016 in Warsaw, Poland.

Janusz Korwin-Mikke, a right-wing Polish member of the European Parliament recently punished for anti-migrant statements and making Nazi salutes, may be censured again — this time for stating that women earn less money than men because they deserve to.

As the BBC reports, the MEP said, while on the floor of Parliament in Brussels, "Of course women must earn less than men because they are weaker, they are smaller, they are less intelligent [than men]. They must earn less. That's all."

Video of the speech has gone viral, as has an impassioned response by Iratxe Garcia Perez, a left-wing MEP from Spain, who told Korwin-Mikke, "I am here to protect all European women from men like you."

The two MEPs were debating the causes and possible solutions to the gender pay gap, and their impassioned back-and-forth, coming so soon before International Women's Day, has sparked an international outcry.

The pay gap varies considerably in Europe, according to Eurostat, ranging from as little as 5.5 percent in Italy and Luxembourg to as much as 26.9 percent in Estonia. As it happens, the gap in Poland is relatively small: Only about 7 percent, or half what it is in Spain.

In America, the pay gap is about 20 percent, though it also varies considerably by state.

A GOP official in Utah, James Green, apologized in February after making a similar argument about the biological reasons for the pay gap.

His letter to the editor, titled "Equal Pay for Women Has Consequences" and published in both the Wasatch Wave and the Park Record, reads, "Traditionally men have earned more than women in the workplace because they are considered the primary breadwinners for families. They need to make enough to support their families and allow the Mother to remain in the home to raise and nurture the children."

Pay equity, Green maintains, creates competition, depresses wages for breadwinners and, in consequence, forces more women into the workforce. He concludes, "that is bad for families and thus for all of society."

In his apology, Green says, "Women's contributions in the workplace are just as valuable as any one else's. I was merely pointing out the historical reasons for pay disparity and the challenges of overcoming that."