Gedner Equality Index Report: Highlights

Gender Equality Index, is the only index that gives a comprehensive map of gender gaps in the EU and across member states based on the EU policy framework. The creation of the assessment tool was undertaken by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE).

According to the GEI, the purpose of gender equality is:
  • Tinkering-equal treatment (legal redress to treat women and men the same) ;
  • Tailoring –positive action (recognising that there are differences between men and women and that specific measures are required to address disadvantages experienced by women as a consequence of those differences);
  • Transforming-gender mainstreaming (how existing systems and structures cause indirect discrimination and altering or redressing them as appropriate).
The GEI by attempting to combine  the three approaches of sameness, difference and transformation, is engaging to transform gender relations to achieve greater gender equality for both women and men in Europe. To combine these positions, the GEI considers gender gaps, in an attempt to distance itself from the sameness-difference debate inherent in measuring levels of achievement.

The added value of GEI is that it can play an important role by supporting decision-makers in assessing how far a given Member State is from reaching gender equality, making meaningful comparisons between different policy areas and  making  gender equality visible by measuring its progress over  time and geographical areas.

Using some of the conceptualisations of gender equality and key frameworks  of gender equality of various organisations like EU, UN etc, the domains used in the gender equality index are presented in (figure 2.1). It consists of eight domains, the first six being combined into a core index, and an additional two satellite indices. The satellite indices are conceptually related to gender equality, but cannot be included in the core index because they measure an illustrative phenomenon- that is, a phenomenon that only applies to a selected group of the population. This occurs when considering issues that are related to women only, as in the case of gender-based  violence against women, or when examining gender gaps among specific population groups (people with a disability; lone parents or carers; etc). Creating a framework of a core index with satellite accounts provides more flexibility to the Gender Equality Index and thus increases its usefulness.

The first domain, work , relates to gender gaps in the position of men and women in the European labour market. The domain of work is divided into three sub-domains which consist of participation, segregation and quality of work.
The second domain, money, examines gaps between the financial resources and economic situation of women and men. It is an important domain of gender equality given that the women are generally disadvantaged financially, exposing them to  greater risks of social exclusion.
The third domain, knowledge examines gaps between women and men in terms of education, segregation  and training. It is observed that gender differences persist in terms of subject preferences and performance.
The fourth  domain which is time, is an area particularly gendered largely because of the disproportionate   amount of care time apportioned to women. Time is not only about  the dichotomy of the paid work but also social, personal and civic activities.
The power domain focusses on women’s and men’s gap in different levels of participation in the political, social and economic spheres and their share of positions of power. Gender equality is affected by the lack of participation and access to decision making, including political, social, and economic spheres, all of which have detrimental consequences.

The domain of health is crucial because the main issues of gender and health relate to the necessity to go beyond the biological aspect of health and consider the impact of gender on women’s and men’s health. So the health status of women can be linked to other determinants like the socio-economic status, labour market participation, sector of employment and income levels. Gender inequality also affects the behaviour towards health issues and access to health structures.

Intersecting inequalities forms the next domain of GEI. It is concerned with the effect of gender combined with other characteristics in men and women and how gender operates within different groups. This domain also explores gender gaps among specific group of women and men particularly the vulnerable and marginalised ones.

The final domain is violence. It does not focus on gaps but on levels as the aim is to not reduce gap of violence between men and women but to eliminate violence altogether. The area does not focus on a gender approach but takes women’s perspective as it recognises that violence is an expression of power linked to the domination of some forms of masculinity, mostly over women. It combines several forms of violence and analyses them in terms of power relations as something that is common to all women.

It is observed that the strongest connection occurs between three of the domains of work, money and knowledge.
The GEI is a mathematical combination of set of individual indicators, which aims to provide summary of the complex reality. The scores of the Gender Equality Index range from 1 to 100, where 1 stands for absolute gender inequality and 100 marks the level of full gender equality. The scores, overall and in each core domain (work, money, knowledge, time, power and health) are presented in table here.

Despite more than 50 years of gender equality policy at EU level, the report shows that gender gaps are prevalent across the EU-27. With an average score of 54.0, the EU remains far from reaching its gender equality aim. The range across Member states, from 35.3 to 74.3, shows the broad scale of variation throughout the EU in the level of Gender Equality achieved overall.
In order to better understand the index, scores are analysed together with other relevant variables related to social and economic spheres, this comparative analysis examines its scores in the context of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and in the context of spending on selected areas such as social protection, education, research and development and active labour market policies.


There is huge gender imbalance in decision making at EU level as well for member states as women are greatly underrepresented in top positions. There are inequalities in the division of time between women and men, and women remain disproportionately responsible for caring activities. There exist a huge statistical  gap of methodological constrains and indicators in measuring gender based violence against women. The domain of knowledge appears to be precursor to change in gender terms with women now outnumbering men in educational attainment but segregation pattern persists. In the field of work, there exist gender disparities how women and men are getting in and getting on in the labour market.  In terms of money, it is observed that lower earnings and income among women lead to greater risk of poverty and higher disparities of income. The scores of domain of work and money are similar showing a relation amongst the two. The area of health  shows a positive sign as low gender gaps are observed throughout most EU member states.

The Gender Equality Index provides a comprehensive measure of equality between women and men relevant to the EU policy framework. The results have shown that EU is halfway towards gender equality, although there are large differences  between member states in how close they are to the equality point. The results show the extent of work that remains to be done to make gender equality a reality.

Written by Rupinder Kaur Bhalla

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