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Towards a European Union gender equality index? Janneke Plantenga

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1 Towards a European Union gender equality index? Janneke Plantenga

2 Towards an equality index? Within the European union, equal opportunities between men and women are important because a higher participation rate of women will contribute in a decisive manner to the employment growth that is needed to maintain the prosperity of the Unions Member States Yet, position of men and women differs widely throughout Europe. In addition, policy towards equal opportunities differs. Given this diverse context, an effective monitoring of the current state of affairs, based on a common set of indicators is important.

3 Towards an equality index? In the ideal case, the index identifies countries that have achieved relative success in promoting equal opportunities, increases gender awareness and induces member states to take specific actions. The Gender-related Development Index (GDI) and the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) as developed by the United Nations are based on very general indicators; EU differences on this index are too small to be meaningful. In addition, GDI scores are strongly positively related to per capita GDP. As a result the GDI does not measure gender equality in itself but a combination of gender equality and levels of achievement.

4 Towards an equality index? The index should serve three main goals: It should identify the extent of gender (in)equality at a certain point of time; It should identify causes for (in)equality with a view to suggesting policies to reduce inequality; It should enable monitoring of the impact of these policies over time.

5 Towards an equality index? Step 1: finding an acceptable definition of gender equality. Universal caregiver model of NancyFraser (1997) The trick is to imagine a social world in which citizens lives integrate wage earning, care giving, community activism, political participation and involvement in the associational life of civil society - while also leaving time for some fun. Equal sharing of paid work, money, decision-making power and time full citizenship index.

6 Towards an equality index? Step 2: listing practical requirements The index should stimulate countries to pay more attention to gender equality. The indicators selected should therefore be practical, they should be easy to read, meaningful and consistent. The index should be in line with European Employment Strategy. The index should both be feasible and reliable; operationalisation of the gender equality index should takes into account the availability of harmonised statistics.

7 The index: dimensions, sub-dimensions and operationalisations Dimension I: equal sharing of paid labour Sub-dimensions 1: participation Operationalisation: difference in employment rates between women and men in percentage points Sub-dimensions 2: unemployment Operationalisation: the difference in unemployment rates between women and men in percentage points

8 The index: dimensions, sub-dimensions and operationalisations Dimension II: equal sharing of money Sub-dimensions 1: pay Operationalisation: difference between mens and womens average gross hourly earnings as a percentage of mens average gross hourly earnings Sub-dimensions 2: income Operationalisation: the proportion of female- headed single households under the low-income threshold minus the proportion of male-headed single households under the low-income threshold

9 The index: dimensions, sub-dimensions and operationalisations Dimension III: equal sharing of power Sub-dimensions 1: political power Operationalisation: difference in the share of women in parliament and the share of men Sub-dimensions 2: socio-economic power Operationalisation: difference in the share of women in ISCO1 and the share of men

10 The index: dimensions, sub-dimensions and operationalisations Dimension IV: equal sharing of time Sub-dimensions 1: caring time Operationalisation: average time ofwomen aged spent on providing care for children divided by the average time of men Sub-dimensions 2: leisure Operationalisation: average time per day spent on leisure by women divided by average time per day spent on leisure by men

11 Calculating the index Actual values have been standardized by applying the min-max methodology which is also used for calculating the GDI and GEM-indices. The calculation is: standardised value = (actual value x 1- minimum value x 1 ) / (maximum value x 1 - minimum value x 1 )

12 Calculating the index As gender equality is conceptualised as the absence of gaps, the maximum (the optimal case) refers to the theoretical maximum value in the case of full equality and has always the value 0. The minimum value is set at a level which is a little below the actual minimum value within the EU countries. This fixed minimum is treated as a baseline (or in the words of the UNDP: goalpost)

13 Results Actual scores range from 0.72 (Sweden) to 0.26 (Greece). The first cluster, with scores of 0.60 and higher, includes Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Finland and Denmark, displaying the highest overall performance The second cluster, with scores between 0.45 and 0.60, includes most countries of mid and central Europe, like France, Germany, Poland, Austria and the Czech Republic The third and final cluster, with countries scoring below 0.45 comprises most of the southern European countries like Italy, Spain, Malta, Cyprus and Greece.

14 Results Atypical cases in the northwest group of countries are the UK and Ireland: low scores on the pay dimension and political power. In addition, low score of Ireland on equal sharing of care activities. Atypical cases from mid and central Europe are Lithuania, Latvia and Hungary: high scores on participation, unemployment, income and socio- economic power. Portugal is a atypical case in the final cluster: high scores on participation, unemployment and income, and medium scores on pay and socio-economic power.

15 Debate: data The relevance of the index, its feasibility and reliability depend to a large extent on the choice of indicators and the availability of comparable harmonised data. Reliable data sources are scarce, however, especially in the field of earnings, income and time use. Extension of harmonised data-bases is absolutely essential in order to produce reliable figures especially at fields which seem less at the centre of social policy, but should nevertheless be deemed essential for a just, viable and gender equal society.

16 Debate: the choice of sub-dimensions and indicators. Indicators differ in sensitivity to economic conditions and/or policy development operationalisation of the sub-dimension: for example participation rate in head count of full time equivalents.

17 Debate: the methodology applied Gender gaps are standardised in such a way that the values indicate the actual distance towards a situation of full gender equality. It gives no indication whether the actual inequality refers to a negative gender gap or a positive gender gap. Movements in time may be difficult to evaluate because the gender gap in, for example, pay can be reduced through an increase in the hourly wages of women or through a decrease in the hourly wages of men. A score on the gender equality index should therefore not be seen as a final answer, but rather as an incitement to further research (viz. benchmarking).

18 Debate: the empirical results. Gender equality is still a long way off. The maximum value of EUGEI is 1, which corresponds to a situation of complete gender equality. However, the maximum score does not exceed 0.72, and six countries score below Relatively low scores are found for the sub- dimensions pay (highest score is 0.64 for Slovenia) Other indicators which signify a large gap to full equality are care and leisure, although the scores may be distorted because of lack of data


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