European & International News

Women only halfway to equality in Europe

[Brussels, 25 June 2015] The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) revealed today the results of its second Gender Equality Index. The European Women’s Lobby attended the launch event in Brussels with great interest as this resarch is of course essential for monitoring the effectiveness of gender equality policies at EU and national level.

The EU-28 achieved an average score of 52.9 out of 100 points (2012 data) showing that Europe is only halfway towards a gender-equal and cohesive society. Moreover, progress since 2005 has only been marginal, when the score was 51.3.

In a reaction Viviane Teitelbaum, President of the EWL, urged European Union decision-makers to commit, accelerate and invest in women’s rights. "We need to talk the talk and walk the walk, to think out of the box, otherwise we will have the same index or worse 10 years from now". That is why the EWL and its members continue to call on the European Commission to adopt an ambitious new Strategy on Equality between women and men post 2015.

Find the full report here

Find the Gender Equality Index by country here


The index shows just how far European countries are from full gender equality. It is based on (already existing) data from 2005, 2010, 2012 and measures the progress towards gender equality accross the European Union Member State"s over time.

The index focuses on 8 domains pertinent to EU policy: money, knowledge, time, power, health & violence and intersecting inequalities: these last two are not calculated IN the index, because they measure an illustrative phenomenon. However they are used to compare to the Gender Equality Index score of a country.

For a country, to achieve a high score, it is necessary to have low gender gaps (differences between women and men on a certain indicator) and proximity in levels to the best performing country for each indicator. In other words: it’s not because women and men are equally performing low: that this results in a good score. In light of the economic crisis for example, gender gaps have greatly reduced across the EU in some areas. This increase in gender equality does not reflect improvements in a country, but rather is a reflection of how the lives of both women and men have been negatively affected over the past few years.

For info, the Gender Equality GAP report, published yearly by the World Economic Forum covers many more countries worldwide and does not use these levels of achievement.

The index is binary male-female, and EIGE rightly points out: "It remains necessary to interpret the results from a more elaborate and critical gender perspective".

Additionally, the EU average score measures gender gaps in relation to the level of cohesion there is across the Member States. It goes up when gender gaps close on average and the difference between Member States is smaller.


* 4 countries: Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden score markedly above the EU average score and those of the other Member States, over time the upper limit of scores has barely changed.

* 10 Member States follow the EU pattern with scores that have risen both between 2005 and 2010 and between 2010 and 2012
Finland, Slovenia, Ireland, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Poland, Italy

* 9 Member States’ scores have risen between 2005–10, but decreased between 2010–12
Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Hungary, Greece, Portugal

* 4 Member States’ scores have decreased between 2005–10 but risen between 2010–12
Luxemburg, Austria, Malta, Bulgaria

* 4 Member States’ scores have decreased in both periods 2005–10 and 2010–12
United Kingdom, Lithuania, Croatia, Slovakia, Romania

When looking at the different domains, we can come to roughly the following outcomes (Consult the report for more nuanced information).

Women are less likely to participate in the labour market, tend to work fewer hours, work in segregated sectors and therefore the quality of work is lower.

Women earn less and are at greater risk-of-poverty.

These two domaines however show some minor positive results, which is interesting because these are areas in which EU coordinated and strategic action takes place.

More women are studying, but what remains largely unchanged is the gender-based pattern of segregation in education with greater
under-representation of women in engineering, manufacturing and construction and their overrepresentation in education.

Women performe the bulk of caring activities, with extremely wide gender gaps between the time spent on caring and educating children and grandchildren, as well as time spent on cooking and housework.

Women, compared with men, are grossly under-represented in political and economic decision-making.

* HEALTH – (NOTE sexual and reproductive health not included, because not comparable between women and men).
As the report puts it "Women get sicker and men die younger."

What EIGE also did, was a check with the broader context in Europe.
The report discovers correlations between a higher GDP, higher social protection, less young people unemployed, more formal child care, more women on boards and more spending on health care when a country has a higher gender equality index score.

Violence against women
The Gender Equality Index for the first time also focused on violence against women, using data of the extensive Survey of the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) performed last March. This Survey finally produced official evidence of the high prevalence of violence against women in all parts of Europe. It also provided a comprehensive overview of the old and new forms of violence that women in Europe are facing specifically because they are women.

Member States with higher levels of violence against women also score higher in the Gender Equality Index: this is not odd or even contradictory information: EIGE research shows that when the level of gender equality is high, people tend to have more trust in justice institutions and in the police and the levels of disclosed violence are higher. This is of course very valuable evidence for the continued struggle of the women’s movement. In 2017 the Index will focus more on intersectionality.

You can check the tweets of the launch event under hastag #EIGEIndex

Latest video

EWL event "Progress towards a Europe free from all forms of male violence" to mark the 10th aniversary of the Istanbul Convention, 12 May 2021.

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