Gender equality is one of the European Union’s founding values, dating back to 1957. Women have achieved successes, but they have not yet gained gender equity. The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) has developed the tool which helps to measure the progress of gender equality and they named it the Gender Equality Index. The index gives a comprehensive map of gender inequalities in the EU and across Member States based on EU policy priorities and realities. It shows whether government policies are matching the specific needs of women and men and whether they are working or not. The aim of it is a support of evidence-based and better-informed decision-making in the EU.
The Index has six core domains:
- Work (it compares the position of women and men in the EU’s labor market, duration of working life, sectorial segregation patterns and quality of work).
- Money (it measures gaps in earnings, risk of poverty and income distribution).
- Knowledge (it shows differences between women and men in terms of education and training, also segregation in this field).
- Time (it measures inequalities of spending time for different activities: caring for their children or grandchildren, older people and people with disabilities, their involvement in cooking and housework).
- Power (it compares gender equality in decision-making positions across the political, economic and social spheres, the representation of women and men in national parliaments, government and regional/local assemblies.
- Health (it measures gender gap in health-related aspects: health status, healthy/unhealthy behavior and access to health services).
Also the Gender Equality Index included two satellite domains: violence against women and intersecting inequalities. Intersecting inequalities looks at other characteristics that may affect gender equality: family type, age, country of birth, disability and education.
The measurement used produces a score that ranges between 1 and 100. High score means that country is very close to achieve a gender-equal society. And only the measure of violence against women uses the opposite approach. The higher the value of the composite measure, the more serious the phenomenon of violence against women in the country is. On a scale of 1 to 100, 1 represents a situation where violence is non-existent and 100 represents a situation where violence against women is extremely common, highly severe and not disclosed. The best-performing country is therefore the one with the lowest score.
The updated Gender Equality Index shows that Europe is moving forward but not so fast. The EU’s score is just four points higher than ten years ago, now 66.2 out of 100. The top performing country is Sweden with a score of 82.6, while Greece moved to the bottom with 50 points. The award for the most improved country goes to Italy, which made a big leap and gained 12.9 points to place itself at rank 14 on the ladder.
The Index for the first time presents data in the domain of social power, media and sports. In the media landscape, there are clearly more women who study journalism but few make it to the top. The decision-makers in the media are mostly men (women make up 22% of board presidents of public broadcasters in the EU). In the area of research funding, women make up less than a third (27 %) of the heads of research funding organizations. The situation is even worse in the sports sector, where women hold only 14% of top positions in the sports federations across the EU.
This index helps to understand more visibility to areas that need improvement and ultimately support policy makers to design more effective gender equality measures. Equality is not about making women more like men, but about creating an environment where both sexes can have equal choices and fully participate in social, work and family life.