Europe

E.U. 'three generations' away from gender equality: report

Published : October 29, 2021 19:01 IST

Gender equality improvements have slowed down in the E.U. over the past decade. Photo: wolterfoto/imago images

A report on gender equality in the E.U. has shown a dismal rate of improvement in recent years.

Gender equality has only slightly improved in the European Union in recent years and the situation will likely remain dismal due to the coronavirus pandemic, a new report published on October 28 revealed. The E.U. as a whole scored 68 points out of a possible total of 100 in the 2021 Gender Equality Index published by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE).

This marked an improvement of just 0.6 points over 2020, and just under 5 points in the past 11 years. "With gender equality inching forward by only one point every two years, it will take nearly three generations to achieve gender parity at the current pace," the report said. The global COVID-19 pandemic may have not only slowed advancement, but even put the "fragile gains" in gender equality at risk.

Why is gender equality slowing down?

"Europe has made fragile gains in gender equality. But big losses are emerging as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The economic fallout is lasting longer for women, while life expectancy for men has dropped," EIGE Director Carlien Scheele said. Part of the reason lies in the overrepresentation of women in health care jobs, leaving them more vulnerable to infection. At the same time, men are more at risk of hospitalization from the coronavirus.

The greatest inequality, however, remains in leadership positions. Women are still the minority in positions of power, the report stated. Progress in other key areas such as work, time and health have also slowed. The unequal burden usually carried by women in unpaid household work and childcare was exacerbated by the pandemic and global lockdowns.

Wide range of scores among member states

The three leading countries for gender equality in the E.U. were Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands, scoring 83.9, 77.8 and 75.9 respectively. Greece, with a score of just 52.5, came last among E.U. member states, just below Hungary and Romania.

Germany floated slightly over the E.U. average with a score of 68.6 points, including a 6 point improvement since 2010. Luxembourg was the country that made the biggest gains in equality while Slovenia was the only member state to regress since 2018. Italy and Malta also saw big gains in the past decade while the smallest advancement was seen in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

ab/aw (dpa, KNA)

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