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Equality between women and men is a fundamental value of the European Union, enshrined in its Treaties and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The EU plays a crucial role in ensuring that the principle of gender equality filters down from the international and EU level to national, regional and local levels. Over time and in various areas specific policies have been developed to improve gender equality in the European Union and in the Member States. To evaluate the level of gender equality in specific domains and on international or national levels different monitoring tools have been developed worldwide. However, an effective tool that measures various aspects of gender equality within the policy framework of the European Union was missing and became indispensable.
The need for the gender equality index was initially introduced by the European Commission in the Roadmap for Equality between Women and Men 2006−2010 and subsequently included in the action plan of its Strategy for the Equality between Women and Men 2010−2015. The European Institute for Gender Equality was assigned this task of constructing a composite indicator on gender equality that reflects the multi-faceted reality of gender equality, and is specifically tailored towards the policy framework of the European Union and Member States. The work on the development of the Gender Equality Index for Europe started in 2010 and the results were officially launched at an EU conference in Brussels on 13 June 2013.