Gender Equality in Europe: Where do we stand today?

“Gender equality is (…) about creating an environment where both sexes can have equal choices and fully participate in social, work and family life”, said Věra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality.
But are we really moving towards gender equality in Europe? And if so, when will we finally get there?

On 11 October 2017 in Brussels the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) presented its latest findings: With an average Gender Equality Index score of 66.2 out of 100 (where 100 denotes absolute equality), the EU is a long way from equality of women and men. The 2017 results point to two important conclusions: on the one hand, the progress the EU has collectively made towards gender equality in the past 10 years has been rather slow – a mere 4.2-point increase since it was first measured in 2005. On the other hand, the results showed that inequalities prevail across all areas of life and all over Europe. Here are some interesting takeaways from the six key domains of research:

  • Knowledge | While women fare slightly better in educational attainment than men, sectoral segregation still persists, with men dominating STEM fields (66%), and women dominating education, health and welfare (women represent around 3/4 of tertiary-level students in EHW).
  • Work | The EU average FTE employment rates measure 39,6% for women to 55,8% for men.
  • Money | The EU average gender gap in monthly earnings is 20% to the detriment of women. As a comparison, the gender pay gap in the EU stood at 16.3% in 2015 according to Eurostat.
  • Power | The share of women in political and economic decision-making marked a 9.6-point increase since 2005, narrowing gender gaps in national parliaments and on corporate boards.
  • Time | Women take the lion’s share of the unpaid work. They do most of the housework (78.7%, as opposed to men’s 33.7%) and care for dependent family members (37,5%, as opposed to mens’ 24,7%).
  • Health | On average, men in the EU live 5.4 years shorter than women; they are more physically active, but they smoke and drink more (46% men as opposed to 28% of women).

The is just a small portion of EIGE’s findings; the comprehensive Gender Equality Index reveals much more than what is reported here: not only it offers country-specific data for all 28 Member States, but it also gives an in-depth insight into gender gaps in each of the six core domains. For instance, it points at sectoral inequalities, such as the one in the media, where women constitute 67% of graduates in journalism, but represent only 14% of CEOs in the media sector.
Also, the Gender Equality Index for the first time measured how gender intersects with age, education, family composition and parenthood, migration background and disability.

Explore the 2017 Gender Equality Index

As slow-paced as it has been, narrowing the gender gap in the past 10 years has to a large extent been driven by legislative action and intensive public debates in Europe, especially in the Scandinavian countries, with Sweden at the forefront. Still, the evidence calls for a more gender-sensitive approach to policy-making, targeting discrimination and disadvantages faced by both gender Europe-wide. And while legal obligations may be a crucial prerequisite for gender equality, a lot can and should be achieved with public interventions. EU-funded interventions are no exception.

To maximise the impact of EU-funded interventions, ETCP is preparing a new Training on gender equality for public authorities managing EU Funds (primarily ESF). The training will take place from 12-13 December in Stockholm and will integrate the gender dimension into the ESF programme and project lifecycle – from programming to verification. As pointed out by our lecturer Nathalie Wuiame, “this implies analysing the situation, fixing objectives, implementing action plans, monitoring indicators, verifying that it has been put into practice efficiently and, finally, evaluating the results and impact of  interventions.”

More about the training