Snail’s-pace progress on gender equality in the EU continues

While the Gender Equality Index score for the EU rose from 66.2 points in 2015 to 67.4 in 2017, it represented an increase of just 0.6 points per year. This was in line with the sluggish improvement seen between 2005 and 2015, averaging around 0.4 points per year.

Nearly all Member States saw some progress towards gender equality between 2015 and 2017, with scores in 16 Member States improving by more than 1 point. Particularly strong progress was achieved in Portugal (+ 3.9 points) and Estonia (+ 3.1 points), with Portugal advancing by more than 10 points overall since 2005. This was largely due to dramatic advances in political and economic decision-making. In Estonia, progress was attributable to higher scores in the power, knowledge and money domains (see Table 1 and Figure 4).

Figure 4: Changes in Member State scores in the Gender Equality Index, 2005-2017 and 2015-2017

While Italy and Cyprus showed the largest individual improvement on gender equality in the EU since 2005, progress slowed down between 2005 and 2017. Italy witnessed a 12.9-point increase up until 2015 but its Index score rose by a mere 0.9 point in the following 2 years. Cyprus’s score improved by 1.2 points in the same period, resulting in an overall increase of 10.4 points since 2005. This was enough to lift Cyprus from last position on the Index in 2005 to 20th in 2017.

A few other Member States saw accelerated progress. Croatia, for example, improved by 1.3-points per year from 2015 compared to a 0.3 point annual increase during the previous decade.

Although Slovakia, Czechia and the United Kingdom saw no improvement between 2005 and 2015, Czechia’s score increased by 2.1 and Slovakia’s by 1.7 in the following 2 years, putting both Member States at the lower end of the Index (21st and 26th respectively). The United Kingdom’s score grew by a mere 0.7 points.

For two Member States — Lithuania and Poland — gains made before 2015 (+ 1 and + 4.4 points respectively) were reversed. Lithuania’s score dropped to 55.5 points in 2017, making it the only Member State not to have made any progress on gender equality since 2005. Poland’s decrease to 55.2 points erased about a third of the gains it had made in the preceding decade. In both cases, these reversals were due to growing gender imbalances in the power domain.

The loss of 0.8 points for the Netherlands resulted in it dropping from fourth to sixth position on the Gender Equality Index since 2015.

Table 1: Changes in the Gender Equality Index and domain scores by Member State, 2005-2017 and 2015-2017 (points)