Europe barely makes progress in gender equality, Belgium scores above average
European gender equality is progressing at a snail's pace, according to the recently launched Gender Equality Index 2022. Despite policy measures, gender equality has improved by only 0,6 per cent since last year. Belgium does score above average, however.
Currently, the average European score is 68,6 out of 100, just 5,5 points higher than in 2010. Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands are the best performers, although progress on gender equality has stagnated in Sweden and Denmark. In Greece, Hungary and Romania, progress is slowest. Belgium - along with Lithuania, Croatia and the Netherlands - is among the strongest risers.
The index is based mainly on data from 2020, the first year of the pandemic. In times of uncertainty and turmoil, women should not lose ot, European Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli said in a press release. "We must continue our efforts for gender equality. In the wake of the pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing economic crisis, both regional institutions and EU countries must keep gender equality in mind in their budgetary and policy measures."
"The most worrying aspect is that this year's score went down in several areas for the first time since 2010," said Carlien Scheele, director of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE).
Overall, the score on labour force participation has deteriorated, and fewer women than men participated in formal and informal education activities. Additionally, while COVID-19 created unprecedented pressure on the health sector, gender equality in health status and access to healthcare declined.
Young women and women from migrant backgrounds were hit hardest by unemployment following the pandemic. An additional online survey revealed that women spent more time on unpaid care. In 2020, this gap widened even more. 40 per cent of women take care of young children for at least four hours on a regular weekday, compared with 21 per cent of men. In terms of intensive housework, the same applies: 20 per cent of women spend at least four hours on the household daily, compared to 12 per cent of men.
Despite being very low at 0,6 per cent, the index is still positive. This (slightly) positive trend can be attributed mainly to progress in the 'power' domain, a score which EIGE attributes primarily to the increased participation of women in economic and political decision-making.
© BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK - Image shows 'Women's Strike' protest for gender equality in Brussels on International Women's Day, March 8th 2020