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Central, Southeast European Countries Have Least Gender Equality in EU

Gender Equality Index 2017 shows “snail’s pace” progress and “still a lot of room for improvement of equality between women and men.”

11 October 2017

Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and the Czech Republic have among the lowest scores in the Gender Equality Index 2017, which measures the gender gaps between men and women living in the states of the European Union. All these countries have scores close to 50 out of 100, which was the score of the lowest-ranking country in the index, Greece.


All countries from TOL’s coverage region that are also EU members fared worse than the EU average of 66.2, with only Bulgaria and Latvia coming close, with 58 and 57.9, respectively.  


Launched in 2013, the Gender Equality Index “is a composite indicator that measures the complex concept of gender equality … to this end, it measures gender gaps and takes into account the context and different levels of achievement of Member States.”


The index score averages ratings in the areas of Work, Knowledge, Power, Violence, Money, Time, and Health, from 2005 to 2015. The accompanying report shows that most member states progressed in three or four domains, and that “improved balance in decision-making” was the catalyst for such progress.


Overall, over that time period, the number of women involved in political and economic decision-making increased. However, between 2012 and 2015 stagnation replaced that positive movement. That was a result of a reverse trend regarding the way men and women spend their time, with only one in three men engaging daily in cooking and cleaning, compared to one in eight women.


Speaking about the results of the study, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers, and Gender Equality Vera Jourova said “this backwards or stagnating trend I find truly embarrassing. Equality is not about women becoming like men, but tapping the full potential of our society by creating an environment of choice,” according to The Guardian.

  • Only 20.5 percent of lawmakers in the Czech Republic’s Chamber of Deputies are female while the figure is even lower – 18.5 percent – in the Senate. Only five of the nation’s 21 members of the European Parliament are female. In a country with a reputation for being progressive on social issues – in contrast with some of its neighbors – those figures, among the worst in the EU, continue to infuriate campaigners for equal representation,” writes TOL contributor Elizabeth Potter in 2016.


  • Outside the EU, Serbia has been making inroads in tackling domestic violence, after an uptick in the number of reported cases in the past decade, due to the victims’ increasing willingness to report abuse as the topic gets more media coverage.


  • Going further east, the Armenian army's initiative to include women in its ranks three years ago proved a success, with more and more women in combat roles too, notably snipers and sappers. 

Compiled by Ioana Caloianu

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Moldovan diaries

The Moldovan Diaries is a multimedia, interactive examination of the country's ethnic, religious, social and political identities by Paolo Paterlini and Cesare De Giglio.

This innovative approach to story telling gives voice to ordinary people and takes the reader on the virtual trip across Moldovan rural and urban landscapes. 

It is a unique and intimate map of the nation.


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