The EU has come a long way towards closing the gender gap but women still make up only 14% of ambassadors, 9% of university deans, 3% of large company presidents and 2% of ministers. Women on average earn €2 an hour less than their male counterparts and do 13 hours more work in the home. We know all this thanks to European Institute of Gender Equality, which gathers and analyses information on stereotypes, pay, violence and the "glass ceiling" across the EU.
Gender Institute Director Virginija Langbakk came to talk to Parliament's Women's Committee 14 March and urged action on gender issues. "I'm happy I was not born 100 years ago (but) we don’t have another 100 years. Europe can no longer afford to live with the existing gender gap."
High price of inequality, violence
Society pays a high price for gender-based inequalities and violence. Employment among women remains 12% lower than among men and, according to the data gathered by the Institute from national sources, thousands of women are killed in Europe every year by partners or ex-partners, while the cost of domestic violence in the EU in 2006 was €16 billion.
Collection and analysis of data is at core of the Institute's tasks and Ms Langbakk said the possibility to evaluate and compare the real situation in different EU Member States by having reliable information available will have a positive impact.
Bridging the gap
The institute will develop a Gender Equality Index aimed at assessing progress in gender equality in Member States. It encourages citizens to nominate candidates for its annual calendar on "Women inspiring Europe" and will use social media networks to spread positive role models of successful women.
Based in Vilnius, Lithuania, it opened at the end of 2009 and was fully functioning by June 2010. Its aim is to deliver comparable data, create methodological tools for gender mainstreaming and boost exchanges of best practices, as well as raising awareness of gender-equality issues among EU citizens. It is preparing studies on women and the economy, environment and stereotypes and compiling best practices on preventing violence against women. The logo for the Institute was chosen through an EU-wide contest and was created by a primary school teacher.