Gender Equality Index highlights slow progress on women’s empowerment

gender equality index 2019
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The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) has published its 2019 Gender Equality Index, gauging the progress of Member States towards full equality between the sexes.

The Gender Equality Index for 2019 indicates that EU progress has been minimal, with the bloc’s overall score rising by only 5.4 point in the last 14 years. Within the EU, which scored 67.4 out of 100 as a whole in the 2019 index, Sweden was the most impressive performer with an overall score of 83.6 points; while Greece received the lowest score with 51.2. Portugal showed the most drastic improvement, gaining 3.9 points since the last index.

EIGE Director Virginija Langbakk said: “We are moving in the right direction but we are still far from the finish line. Our index, which sets a benchmark for gender equality in the EU, shows that almost half of all Member States fall below the 60 point mark. As the new EU Parliament and Commission shape and renew EU priorities for the next strategic framework, it is crucial that gender equality gathers speed.”

The Gender Equality Index measures progress across six primary sectors:

  • Health, considering both gender-specific health conditions and access to healthcare;
  • Knowledge, comprising access to and participation in education, educational attainment and gender segregation;
  • Money, measuring men’s and women’s overall earnings, pensions, purchasing power and risk of poverty;
  • Power, measuring levels of equality between the sexes in decision making across the political (representation in local and national government positions) and economic (presence on corporate boards) spheres;
  • Time, gauging the gender disparity in time spent on caring duties and household chores; and
  • Work, measuring equality of access between men and women to workplace opportunities, including training, flexible working and opportunities for promotion.

The Gender Equality Index also considers national levels of violence against women and girls; as well as recognising specifically intersectional needs, acknowledging the intersections of gender inequality with other forms of discrimination on the basis of such factors as age, disability, sexual orientation and country of origin.

The 2019 edition of the Gender Equality Index focused on the themes of work-life balance and parental leave, noting that both access to affordable childcare and reconciling work responsibilities and caring duties are essential to achieving an effective work-life balance – and that this issue particularly affects women, who take on the majority of informal caring responsibilities across the EU. The index highlighted the fact that 28% of women and 20% of men in the EU are not considered eligible for parental leave; while the rising elderly and disabled populations mean that long term care for adult relatives is a growing concern for working-age adults, with 21% of women and 11% of men between the ages of 50 and 64 caring for older or disabled people several days a week.

Věra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, said: “Gender inequality is holding Europe back from reaching its full potential. I am proud of what we have achieved, however now our actions need to make a difference on the ground. Our Work-Life Balance Directive adopted this year will be a game-changer for women and men across Europe. The rules will support more equal sharing of caring responsibilities, which will allow women to stay on the labour market and take on challenging roles or management positions.”


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