Minister of State Kathleen Lynch today delivered one of the keynote addresses at the launch in Brussels of the new Gender Equality Index developed by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE). In her speech, Minister Lynch said that increasing women’s labour market participation can foster economic well being and deter poverty. She joined the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy on the platform at this high profile event.
The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) was assigned the task of constructing an index on gender equality which would reflect the multi-faceted reality of gender equality, and would be specifically tailored towards the policy framework of the European Union and Member States. The complex work on the development of the Gender Equality Index for Europe took nearly three years and the results were launched at an EU conference in Brussels today.
The new EU Gender Equality Index is a unique statistical tool, formed by combining gender indicators, according to a conceptual framework, into a single summary measure. It consists of six core domains (work, health, money, knowledge, time, power) and two satellite domains (intersecting inequalities and violence). The Index provides results on three levels: EU level (EU average), Member States level and scores in each domain and sub-domains. It measures gender equality in 2010 by showing how far (or close) each Member State is from achieving gender equality.
Welcoming the new Index, Minister Lynch pointed out:
“The benefit of publishing statistics is that they highlight issues and foster evidence based policy making. So we in Ireland will use the Gender Index, in all its complexities, to create awareness of the deficits and gaps that need to be bridged before we achieve real gender equality for our women.”
She also used the opportunity to brief President Van Rompuy on the gender equality programme delivered during the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union. This programme, which included a major international conference, a workshop for Ministers and a policy debate at the formal Council of Employment, Social Protection and Equality Ministers, focused largely on the labour market participation of women and the contribution which an increase in women’s employment rates could make to the achievement of economic growth in Europe.
Minister Lynch said:
“While some may cite the high levels of unemployment across many Member States at present, particularly for young people, we know from the EU economic policy agenda that there are still many opportunities in the green economy, in the white economy and in ICT. These high-growth sectors all afford opportunities to women to educate and retrain if necessary for new careers which will benefit both their personal circumstances and economic growth in Europe.”
Concluding her address, Minister Lynch invited President Van Rompuy to maintain a focus on gender equality at EU level. She specifically suggested to him that he, “continue to deliver to European leaders the message that the attainment of “de facto” gender equality is a “win – win” situation for Europe, its citizens and the economy. It offers an economic “win” for Europe and each of its Member States and a personal “win” for each of its female citizens in the form of greater economic independence for women and their families, particularly to avoid poverty.”
Note for Editors
The full report and additional background information of the Gender Equality Index is available on the website of the European Institute for Gender Equality.
The Gender Equality Index places Ireland in ninth position, some 18 points behind the Scandinavian high flyers, but 1.2 points ahead of the EU average. In relation to the core domains, Ireland’s performance is variable at:
- 9th on work (71 compared with EU average of 69)
- 8th on money (77 compared with EU average of 68.9)
- 11th on knowledge (52.8 compared with EU average of 48.9)
- 5th on time (53.4 compared with EU average of 38.8)
- 19th on power (26.5 compared with EU average of 38) and
- 1st on health (96.4 compared with an EU average of 90.1)
Commenting on Ireland’s position in the report, Minister Lynch acknowledged that Ireland performs poorly on decision-making but pointed to the limited range of statistics in relation to decision-making. She noted that while women are under-represented on corporate boards – a measure in the Index – they occupy over a third of all positions on State Boards – which is not a composite statistic within the Index.