Cyprus ranked fourth to last out of 27 EU countries as regards gender equality in power positions and economic decision making, and despite slight improvement came in 11 points below the EU27 average.
The new scores for gender equality were presented during the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) conference on Thursday, which showed progress towards equality between the two sexes was “microscopic” raising the index score by 0.6 points year-on-year, currently at 68.
But experts warned over the pandemic’s negative repercussions on women in all domains including power, work, money, knowledge, time and health.
“Europe has made fragile gains in gender equality. But big losses are emerging as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The economic fallout is lasting longer for women, while life expectancy for men has dropped,” said Carlien Scheele, EIGE’s Director.
“The index findings can help Europe’s leaders tackle the different effects of the pandemic on women and men and alleviate the unequal short and long-term impact,” Scheele added.
The lowest score, 55, concerns the domain of power which has experienced the largest improvement between 2010 and 2019. However, progress in other domains is much slower, and their impact on the overall progress in Index is lower.
Sweden and Denmark are again the top performers in this year’s index with an 83.9 and 77.8 score respectively, followed by the Netherlands with 75.9, which jumped over Finland and France to claim third place.
Among the countries that improved the most are Luxembourg with 72.4 points, Lithuania with 58.4, and the Netherlands, while Slovenia, which scored 67.6 points, was the only country that went backwards.
Cyprus’ score has increased by 0.1 point since 2018, and 8 points since 2010 standing at 57 out of 100 points. This ranks the country 21 in the EU on the Gender Equality Index, same position as last year when the index included the UK.
The Index scores are mostly based on 2019 data.
The island has one of the greatest declines in the domain of work, scoring 70.6 thus 0.2 points lower than last year. Poland, Romania and Slovenia saw a decrease of 0.1 points while the worst decline in the extent to which women and men can benefit from equal access to employment and good working conditions was recorded Denmark (0.3 points). The EU average stands at 71.6 points.
The greatest improvement was recorded in the domain of money which refers to gender inequalities in access to financial resources and women’s and men’s economic situation. Cyprus climbed 0.9 points, raising the score to 82.6 in the specific domain, slightly higher than the EU average of 82.4 points.
Regarding the gender gap in the allocation of time spent doing care and domestic work, Cyprus scored 51.3 points, same as in the previous report, and 13.6 points lower than the EU average.
The lowest score, 30 points, concerned the domain of power, which however improved by 0.2 points and 1.9 points among all member states, raising the average to 55 points.
The country recently experienced a three per cent drop in representation of female MPS in parliament compared with the 2016 parliamentary elections, with just eight women out of 56 seats.
Two other domains, knowledge and health, also saw a decline.
Regarding efforts to reduce gender inequalities in education, Cyprus scored 56 points while the average of other EU member states was 62.7 points. The domain decreased by 0.2 points in the country and 0.1 points in the EU.
Health, which was the focus point in this year’s index, also suffered by 0.1 reduction bringing the score to 87.9 for the island, similar with the EU average of 87.8 points.
At the same time, women tend to report worse health than men.
In the 27 Member States, 66 per cent of women and 71 per cent of men perceive their health to be good or very good. The greater likelihood of women experiencing poor health also manifests in data on healthy life years and as women tend to live longer, more of their life is spent in poor health – an average of 19 years, compared with 14 years for men.
Cyprus was among the eight countries, including Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden where more women than men die of mental and behavioural disorders. “This can be attributed to the high prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias among women,” EIGE’s index said.
Another sector that the country is lacking is sex education, an area that the education ministry admitted there is “room for improvement”.
“Young people are in need of comprehensive sexuality education to understand and enact their rights to health, well-being and dignity,” EIGE’s report said.
According to the index, sexuality education is mandatory in most member states except from Cyprus, Bulgaria, Italy, Lithuania, Poland and Romania.
The Gender Equality Index is a composite indicator that measures the complex concept of gender equality and, based on the EU policy framework, assists in monitoring progress of gender equality across the EU over time.
The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) is the EU knowledge centre on gender equality. EIGE supports policymakers and all relevant institutions in their efforts to make equality between women and men a reality. It provides specific expertise and comparable and reliable data on gender equality in Europe.