Sat, 10 December 2022
The Daily Ittefaq

Gender equality under threat due to COVID — EU report

Update : 25 Oct 2022, 04:36

The coronavirus pandemic has meant progress on gender equality in the European Union is slower than hoped, the Gender Equality Index reports. The domains of work, education and health were hardest hit.

Gender equality in the EU decreased in several areas during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Gender Equality Index 2022 published on Monday by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) in Vilnius, Lithuania.

In its latest edition, the index includes data from the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, 2020. On a scale of 100 points (this would be total equality) the index for the whole EU achieves an overall score of 68.6. That is 0.6 points more than in the previous year.

However, for the first time since its introduction twelve years ago, the index shows declining values ​​in the domains of work, education and health. According to the report, without the progress recorded in the domain of ​​power, the index value would have decreased overall.

Much of the progress in this area is due to the increased participation of women in economic and political decision-making, linked to the introduction of legal quotas in a few EU member states.

What was the effect of the pandemic on equality?

According to the director of the EIGE, Carlien Scheele, the results show that "the specific groups of people, who tend to be in more vulnerable situations during times of crises, are most at risk, where stark gendered inequalities compound the issue."

The report says that a decrease in the score of participation in work indicates that women are increasingly likely to spend fewer years of their lives in employment, affecting career and pension prospects.

Also, fewer women than men participated in formal and informal education activities in 2020. And as COVID-19 created unprecedented pressure on the health sector, decreases in gender equality impacted women in terms of health status and access to healthcare services.

Childcare remains unequally shared between women and men. This is particularly true for high-intensity childcare, where twice as many women (40%) as men (21%) spend at least 4 hours a day looking after young children, the report says.

How did individual European countries rank?

When it comes to gender equality, EU countries still have very different figures. The highest scores came from Sweden (83.9), Denmark (77.8) and the Netherlands (77.3). On the other hand, Greece (53.4), Hungary (53.7) and Romania (54.2) have the greatest difficulties in promoting equality.

Since the last edition, the most significant increases in index scores have been noted in Lithuania, Belgium, Croatia and the Netherlands.

With 68.7 points, Germany is just above the European average, but that is only 0.1 points more than in the previous year. Germany continues to show the highest equality score in the area of ​​health with 90.0 points, money with 83.5 points, and work with 72.9 points.

European Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli commented on the report emphasizing that women in their diversity must "not lose out." "I call on all stakeholders to do their part for equal opportunities, safety and equal say for women and men," she said.

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