EIGE’s tenth anniversary: one decade towards making gender equality a reality

The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) celebrated its tenth anniversary at the end of January with a conference that took stock of the achievements, challenges and milestones during its first decade. The conference was also the opportunity to introduce Carlien Scheele as new Director of EIGE in place of Virginia Langbakk, who has led the Institute since its beginning in 2010.

EIGE is a European Agency based in Vilnius (Lithuania) whose mission is to strengthen gender equality across the EU. The Agency was established to address the challenges of and promoting equality between women and men across the European Union, and to provide robust and sound research and data on gender inequalities in different areas of life. The conference gathered key EU representatives such as Helena Dalli, EU Commissioner for Equality, and Evelyn Regner, Chair of the European Parliament’s Gender Equality Committee, who presented what EIGE has achieved for Gender Equality. MEP Regner regretted that EIGE only celebrated its first decade of existence and wondered what the Parliament could have done with gender equality resources, studies, and research produced by EIGE 20 or 30 years ago.

In her speech, Commissioner Dalli underlined the importance of EIGE’s reports, especially its flagship one, the Gender Equality Index (GEI), which has become the EU’s key reference for gender equality. The Index offers European comparison and examples of good practices, and gives visibility to areas that need improvement since 2010 on a bi-annual basis. The 2019 report underlines that the EU continues its snail’s pace when it comes to gender equality progress, showing that the EU’s score for gender equality is up just one point to 67.4, since the 2017 edition: improving gender equality could bring an extra 10.5 million jobs and €3.15 trillion in GDP by 2050. EIGE chose Work-Life Balance as the 2019 thematic focus of the GEI. The 2020 edition will focus on the domain of Work in the context of digitalisation and on demand for new skills.

Commissioner Dalli announced that the Commission’s Gender Equality Strategy (GES) for the next 5 years would be launched the first week of March, ahead of International Women’s Day. The GES will be based on two action points: general policies and principles and specific actions. The new Strategy 2020-2024 will, among other topics, focus on the proper transposition of the Work-Life Balance Directive and actions of how to tackle the gender care gap, violence against women, pay transparency, gender stereotypes, gender pay and gender issues related to climate change and artificial intelligence. Moreover, she underpinned the creation of new Task Forces within the Directorate General of Equality which will help the Commissioner to better apply the components of the GES. Task Forces will be composed of services of all the European Commission and will meet at the highest political level twice a year.

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