Lithuania in Gender Equality Index has risen by one place but the changes are minimal

The updated Gender Equality Index of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) shows that progress on equality between women and men is particularly slow, an annual increase in equality is just +0.5 points. In the latest index, Lithuania rose by 0,8 points from 23rd to 22nd place. However, it still does not show any breakthrough in gender equality.

EIGE announces that in the European Union during a year from 2017 until 2018 gender equality increased from 67.4 to 67.9 points (+0.5) when 100 points means full equality. Donatas Paulauskas, an expert from the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson, claims that this is a very small "increase in equality", which is mostly driven by the growing share of women in politics and the leading positions of the largest companies. EIGE argues that without progress in the domain of power, the index would simply not change.

Although in the previous EIGE index Lithuania was named as the only EU country that has not made any progress since 2005, this time that label was avoided. Although the Lithuanian Gender Equality Index (56.3 points) still lags far behind the EU average (67.9 points).

The symbolic progress of Lithuania is related with the increased representation of women in certain areas – among vice ministers, members of municipal councils. There has also been a slight increase in the number of women on the boards of public interest organizations operating in the fields of science, sports, and the news media. The improved income distribution indicator and the recent narrowing of the gender pay gap also had an impact”, – the expert explains.

Nevertheless, D. Paulauskas states that he does not notice the tendency of improvement in gender equality in Lithuania and that he cannot say that the situation is definitely changing for the better. "Some indicators have improved, but the overall picture suggests that the changes are minimal. This situation is because gender equality in Lithuania has not become an area of "ordinary public policy" to which sufficient attention is paid. Looking at the most improved domain of power, it seems that the Gender Equality Index is being upgraded by women themselves through their actions – by going into politics and other leading positions. State leadership is not seen here” – the expert of the Office says.

Among the indicators that have regressed in recent years are economic power (-0.4) and access to health (-0.4). In the economic domain, there is a decrease in the number of women managers in listed companies.  In the domain of health, a slight increase is seen in the gender gap among citizens who have unmet needs for health care.

D.Paulauskas claims that the improvement path of Lithuania in the field of gender equality can be evaluated best by assessing the country's progress since 2005 (when the Index started to be calculated) until now. During this time, the overall Lithuanian Gender Equality Index improved only by 0.5 points, while the EU average advanced by 5.9 points.

The largest regression in the history of the Lithuanian Index is observed in the domain of economic power (-14.9), time spent doing care and domestic work (-14.4), and economic status (-2.1). This has been driven by a declining number of women on the boards of listed companies, an enlarging household and childcare burden on women, and increased female poverty.

The biggest progress is seen in the domain of money (+ 15.3), political power (+10.4), and participation (+6.6). This was due to the narrowing gap of the income and pay inequalities between men and women, the increase in the share of women in parliament, ministerial and deputy ministerial positions, municipal councils, as well as the increase in women's employment.

The biggest progress made over the last year is seen in Croatia, the Netherlands, and Spain. The results of these countries were mostly influenced by the increase in gender equality in the domain of power, especially in the economic (boards of listed companies) – where the greatest regression is observed in Lithuania. The leaders of the Index have not changed since last year – Sweden (83.8), Denmark (77.4), and France (75.1). While Greece (52.2), Hungary (53.0), and Romania (54.4) were the least successful countries in achieving gender equality. EIGE estimates that, at the pace at which Europe is moving today, gender equality will only be achieved in more than 60 years.


Birutė Sabatauskaitė

Birutė Sabatauskaitė

Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson of the Republic of Lithuania

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