Mainstream gender equality today, for an egalitarian tomorrow: EIGE's 2022 Gender Equality Index


On the 24th of October 2022, the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) launched their 2022 Gender Equality Index. The Gender Equality Index is a tool developed by EIGE to measure the progress of gender equality in the European Union. It gives the EU and its member states a score from 1 to 100 based on whether full equality has been measured to have been reached between men and women. The Index aims to clarify the areas that need improvement to support policy makers design effective gender equality measures.

The Gender Equality Index 2022 reveals that progress to realising gender equality continues to move at a glacial pace; there has disappointingly only been a 0.6-point increase in the aggregate gender equality score for countries in the EU since 2021.

The 2022 Index's negative outlook derives from its focus on data from 2020, the first year of the pandemic. The 2022 score therefore represents a strong warning sign that gender equality will be threatened by growing uncertainty and upheaval throughout Europe.

The 2022 Index further reveals that gender inequalities are still present in education. When considering the domain of knowledge – which measures gender inequalities in educational attainment, participation and segregation – countries such as Sweden and Belgium score at least 7 points above the EU average of 62.7, whereas Latvia and Romania drop significantly behind, falling a minimum of 10 points below the EU mean. This suggests that there is still a way to go to bridging gender inequalities between countries.

Whilst the 2022 Index does positively reveal that women have overtaken men in graduating from tertiary education, using an intersectional lens unmasks the significant disparities between the abilities of different groups to access education. For example, when considering people with disabilities, only 15% of university graduates are women in comparison to 18% being men.

Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has strongly impacted essential workers in the field of education. Teachers and other education personnel, of whom 73% in the EU are women, have been negatively affected by a mixture of challenges posed by the pandemic. These challenges include having to quickly adapt to the shift to remote teaching, ensuring that student burnout and dropout is prevented, and managing the tension between remote teaching and caring responsibilities.

EIGE in light of these challenges has emphasised the need for national resilience and recovery plans to incorporate gender and intersectional perspectives to positively influence the Gender Equality Index and make progress towards realising gender equality.

The European Trade Union Committee for Education welcomes EIGE's 2022 Gender Equality Index and its findings that show that policy makers need to take urgent action to mainstream gender equality to realise a more just society for all. ETUCE reiterates that education is a segment of the labour market in Europe that is rife with gender inequality. ETUCE has outlined its commitment to working with its members to overcome this, and improve gender equality at all levels of society, within its Action Plan on Gender Equality and has reviewed its implementation at the recent Women’s Caucus organised in the framework of ETUCE Special Conference in July 2022 in Liege.