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EU Makes Slow Progress in Gender Equality

A newly published report has revealed that the EU is making progress in the area of gender equality, but this progress is very slow.

Gender Equality Index

The Gender Equality Index, published by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), is a tool to measure the progress of gender equality in the EU. It covers six main areas  - work, money, knowledge, time, power and health – and two satellite areas: violence against women and intersecting inequalities. It aims to highlight areas that need improvement and support policy makers to design more effective gender equality measures.
 
According to the updated Index, the EU’s score is only four points higher than ten years ago, reaching 66.2 out of 100.
 
“The new results of the Gender Equality Index show that across all areas of life inequality prevails,” commented Vera Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality. “This means Europe has a duty to act. This year I will propose further measures to help empower women and address the gender pay gap. 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.”
 

Biggest Improvement Seen in Decision-Making

The biggest boost for gender equality over the last ten years has apparently been in the area of decision-making, especially in the private sector. The EIGE says this demonstrates that political and public pressure can work and managed to bring about greater gender equality on private company boards.
 
However, although gender equality in decision-making improved by nearly ten points over the past decade to reach 48.5, it still has the lowest score. According to the EIGE, this is a reflection of the uneven representation of women and men in politics and a lack of EU governance.
 
This year’s Index has also given an interesting insight into the state of equality in the top levels of media, research and sport.
 
In the field of media, the Index revealed that women account for two thirds of journalism graduates but few make it to the top, with women only making up 22% of board presidents of public broadcasters in the EU. In the area of research funding, women only make up 27% of the heads of research funding organisations. In the sports sector, the situation is even worse, with women holding only 14% of top positions in the sports federations across the EU. 
 

Calls for Further Action

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) welcomed the publication of the Index, describing it as a valuable tool to measure progress towards gender equality.
 
“The Index provides further evidence of the need for a political EU gender Equality Strategy to increase member states’ action for gender equality,” said ETUC Confederal Secretary Montserrat Mir. “We expect the 2018 European Commission work programme to include gender equality and specific measures to close gender gaps.”
 
“We need all member states on board and not just piecemeal actions,” she added. “The EU Commission proposal on work-life balance is welcome but is not enough. Action to eliminate the gender pay gap is urgently needed. We congratulate EIGE for this work and we look forward to a strong and coherent response from the European Commission.”
 

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