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Feb. 6, 2017 – It would take another 70 years for women to earn the same as men with the current pace of progress, according to the European Commission. Europe might be one of the world’s leaders when it comes to gender equality, but in the EU women still get on average lower salaries and pensions and continue to be underrepresented in political and economic positions of power and decision-making. A report adopted by the women’s rights committee today urges the EU to step up its efforts.

Current situation

The employment rate for women reached an all-time high in 2015 with 64%, compared to 76% for men. Women are four times more likely than men to engage and remain in part-time work. They are also more likely than men to have added responsibilities. Three quarters of household works and two thirds of parental care were done by working women.

Although women have on average a higher level of education than men, they continue to earn less and receive lower pensions. The pay gap in the EU was 16.1% in 2014, while the gap for pensions accounted for 40.2%. In half of EU countries this gap has even increased.

In national parliaments the share of women has increased from 21% in 2005 to 28% in 2016. In the European Parliament their share increased from 30% to 37% over the same period.

Report

The Parliament report on equality between women and men in the EU in 2014-2015 stresses the need to establish gender equality as a political priority. It also calls for creating a legal framework to help people establish a better work-life balance and highlights the negative impact of austerity policies and cutbacks in public care and health services.

“We need gender equality back at the top of the political agenda at EU level,” said report author Ernest Urtasun, a Spanish member of the Greens/EFA group.

Gender equality index

In order to be able to compare the situation in each member state, the European Institute for Gender Equality publishes the gender equality index. The institute looks at six different areas (namely work, money, knowledge, time, power and health) and assigns a score between 1 and 100 to each EU country. A score of 1 stands for total inequality and 100 for full equality, so the higher the score the better. In 2012 the average for all EU countries was 52.9, an increase of only 1.6 points since 2005.

Gender Equality Index (data 2012)

EU average52.9
Austria50.2
Belgium58.2
Bulgaria38.5
Croatia39.8
Cyprus44.9
Czech Republic43.8
Denmark70.9
Estonia49.8
Finland72.7
France55.7
Germany55.3
Greece38.3
Hungary41.6
Ireland56.5
Italy41.1
Latvia46.9
Lithuania40.2
Luxembourg55.2
Malta46.8
Netherlands68.5
Poland43.7
Portugal37.9
Romania33.7
Slovenia57.3
Slovakia36.5
Spain53.6
Sweden74.2
UK58.0

EU average

52.9
Austria50.2
Belgium58.2
Bulgaria38.5
Croatia39.8
Cyprus44.9
Czech Republic43.8
Denmark70.9
Estonia49.8
Finland72.7
France55.7
Germany55.3
Greece38.3
Hungary41.6
Ireland56.5
Italy41.1
Latvia46.9
Lithuania40.2
Luxembourg55.2
Malta46.8
Netherlands68.5
Poland43.7
Portugal37.9
Romania33.7
Slovenia57.3
Slovakia36.5
Spain53.6
Sweden74.2
UK58.0