The Malta Independent 6 December 2021, Monday

Covid-19 could roll back recent progress in gender equality, EU study finds

Friday, 6 August 2021, 12:26 Last update: about 5 months ago

Covid-19 threatens to roll back recent progress in gender equality, a study by the EU institutions Eurofound and European Institute for Gender Equality has found.

A policy brief by the two insitutions looked at the period 2010-2018. It looks at gender equality in the EU in six core domains: work, money, knowledge, time, power and health. 

The social and economic impacts of Covid-19 meant that there was a haphazard implementation of policy measures demonstrated to improve levels of gender equality. The results regarding gender equality varied across Member States.

Sweden ranked first in advancing gender equality throughout the entire period, while Greece struggled the most.

Gender equality increased by more than 7.5 points in Malta, Portugal, Italy and Cyprus, moving these Mediterranean countries closer to the EU average of gender equality.  Among the Baltic Member States, Estonia recorded the most impressive rise - 7.3 points.

In central and eastern Member States, several countries improved their performance at a slower rate than the EU average. For instance, Czechia, Hungary and Poland, were virtually in the same position in 2018 as eight years earlier.

The study found that achievements in the domain of power drove the overall progress in gender equality between 2010 and 2018. This domain looked at the representation of women and men in the highest decision-making positions across the political, economic and social spheres. The study found that there have been striking improvements in gender balance on company boards in several Member States, particularly France, Italy, Belgium and Germany.

Speaking on the publication of the joint policy brief, Ivailo Kalfin, Eurofound Executive Director, emphasised that the economic shocks created by COVID-19 are likely to derail labour market progress on gender equality, and contribute to future disparities. "Gender segregation in the labour market has left women disproportionately exposed to the economic turmoil created by COVID-19," Kalfin said.  

"It is necessary to take action to promote participation of women in male-dominated fields such as STEM and ICT, as well as to bring more men into female-dominated areas, such as the education and care sectors," he added.

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author's view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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