European Institute of Gender Equality

The idea of setting up a European Institute for Gender Equality came into being in 1995 and a draft proposal for its establishment was presented by the Swedish Minister for Gender Equality Ms Margareta Winberg at a seminar held in Stockholm in June 1999. The need for a gender institute as a ‘knowledge centre’ was confirmed by the seminar participants which was concluded by the general agreement on the need for a body for coordination, distribution of information and exchange of knowledge.

As part of the Social Policy Agenda, adopted at Nice in December 2000, the European Council recognised the need to raise awareness, pool resources and exchange experience in order to promote gender equality, in particular through the establishment of a European Institute for Gender Equality.

In 2002, the European Commission had a feasibility study carried out under the Community Framework Strategy on Gender Equality (2001-2005). The study concluded that there is a clear role for the Institute to carry out some of the tasks which the existing institutions do not currently deal with, specifically in the areas of coordination and dissemination of research data, network building, raising the visibility of gender equality, highlighting the gender perspective and developing gender mainstreaming tools.

Despite the positive results of the feasibility study the creation of the Institute was not moving forward. Women’s Rights Committee of the European Parliament then brought the idea of a European Gender Equality Institute back on the political agenda with its Resolution in March 2004 calling to accelerate the efforts leading to the establishment of the Institute. In June 2004, the European Parliament published a report on the Role of a Future European Gender Institute.

The Commission's first annual report on equality between women and men to the Spring European Council in 2004 concluded that significant gender gaps exist in most policy fields that inequality is a multi-dimentional phenomenon that has to be tackled by a comprehensive mix of policy measures and that enhanced efforts are needed to meet the Lisbon strategy targets.

The Employment, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Affairs Council of 1-2 June 2004, based on the results of the Informal Meeting of Equality Ministers convened by the Irish Presidency on 7 May 2004, fully supported the principle of setting up a European Institute for Gender Equality, while stressing the importance of a structure that would bring added value and would not duplicate existing activities in this area.

In June 2004, the European Council, reflecting the goals regarding equality between men and women of the Lisbon agenda and taking into account the previous discussions, expressed its support for the establishment of a European Institute for Gender Equality and invited the Commission to bring forward a specific proposal. This support was founded on the principle that while Community legislation and policies on equal treatment had substantially reduced discrimination, particularly in the area of employment, progress was too slow and enhanced efforts were required.

In March 2005, Vladimír Špidla, the EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, proposed the establishment of a new European Institute for Gender Equality. It would be an independent centre of excellence at European level that collects, analyses and diffuses reliable and comparable data. In the words of Commissioner Špidla: 'The institute will be a strong sign of the EU’s commitment to the promotion of equality.'

The Institute came into being when the European Parliament and the Council adopted Regulation (EC) No 1922/2006 of 20 December 2006 on establishing a European Institute for Gender Equality. The Institute was established in May 2007, initially in Brussels and then moved to its office in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Advancing gender equality in decision-making in media organisations: Report

Review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in the EU Member States: Women and the Media.

The current report is the first one to deliver comparable data on the number of women in decision-making positions across major media organisations in the 27 EU Member States and Croatia. Further to this, the report identifies the extent to which these same organisations have developed gender equality policies, monitoring mechanisms and specific initiatives to support women’s career development. The report proposes the first indicators in the area of Women and the Media of the Beijing Platform for Action. We hope that these indicators will be used for regular monitoring of the media sector in the EU to strengthen gender equality.

The findings show that while women have considerably outnumbered men in university-level and practice-based journalism programmes and that the employment of women in media is increasing, the organisational culture of media remains largely masculine and women are still significantly under-represented at the decision-making level.


Gateway to EU gender equality knowledge launched

The European Institute of Gender Equality (EIGE) have just launched their Resource and Documentation Centre - For the first time ever more than 240,000 resources on gender equality in the EU are available through one portal.

The RDC is available via

Women under-represented in decision-making in media organisations

Women hold only 22 % of strategic decision-making posts in the public media and only 12 % in the private media organisations in the EU-27– as the research of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) shows. ‘Increased number of women in the decision-making structures of media organisations would bring social justice, better use of talents and innovative decisions. It would also improve media content.’ - says Virginija Langbakk, Director of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE). 

EIGE’s new report 'Advancing gender equality in decision-making in media organisations' presents for the first time reliable and comparable EU-wide data on women and men in decision making in the media sector. The report will support policymakers and all relevant institu­tions in their efforts to achieve gender equality.

EIGE’s report points out that the organisational culture within media structures remains largely masculine, despite the fact that women considerably outnumber men in university-level education in this field and constitute nearly half the workforce within the media industry. Women continue to be significantly underrepresented in decision-making structures, both at operational levels as senior managers and at strategic levels, as chief executive officers and board members of major media organisations across the EU Member States.

There is a significant difference between the private and public media sectors. In public media organisations the ratio of women to men occupying strategic decision-making position is only 1 in 5, whereas in private media organisations it decreases to only 1 in 10. Within the decision-making boards of media organisations women represent only 25% of all members.

Despite the fact that organisations implementing gender equality policies and measures are more likely to have a higher proportion of women in strategic decision-making positions, EIGE’s research shows that gender-equality plans, diversity policies and codes of conduct exist only in around a quarter of the surveyed media organisations. Only few organisations have formal mechanisms in place to monitor their gender equality policies. Sixteen percent of the surveyed organisations have a committee responsible for equality-policy issues, 14 % have an equality/diversity officer and 9 % an equality/diversity department.  In general, public media organisations are more likely than private ones to have a gender equality policy, code or measure in place.

Self-regulation has been the main strategy for the media industry. ‘Many politicians have been reluctant to take action concerning gender equality in the media because there is a risk that it could be seen as a form of censorship or a way of limiting freedom of expression, if the media industry becomes more regulated.  On the other hand, it is time to think whose freedom of expression is being protected or hampered. Until now news agendas have been mostly about men for men.’ says Dr Maria Edström, expert on women and the media from the University of Gothenburg.

Based on EIGE’s report, the Council of the European Union has adopted conclusions on ‘Advancing Women’s Roles as Decision-Makers in the Media’ and took note of the first indicators for monitoring the implementation of the area of Women and the Media of the Beijing Platform for Action within the EU Member States.

In line with the findings presented in EIGE’s report, the Council calls on the Member States and the European Commission to take active measures to foster gender equality at all levels, including women’s advancement in decision-making roles in the media industry. The Council also calls for enhancing awareness of gender equality within the media sector and the exchange of good practices between Member States in this area, which will support the process of achieving a gender-equal society.

Read more: Advancing gender equality in decision-making in media organisations: Report

Report’s factsheet

First Gender Equality Index Reveals - the EU is only halfway towards gender equality

How can we move forward when half of us are being held back?

The European Institute for Gender Equality has launched the first Gender Equality Index for the European Union. ‘The Gender Equality Index shows differences in outcomes between women and men at the individual level in EU Member States,’ says Virginija Langbakk, the Director of EIGE. ‘This unique measurement tool supports evidence-based policy-making and indicates where political priorities should be shifted to accelerate the process of achieving a gender-equal Europe. Although gender equality values have been recognised since its earliest days, the European Union is only halfway towards a gender-equal society, with an average EU score of 54 (where 1 stands for no gender equality and 100 for full gender equality).    

‘Gender-sensitive statistics help us better understand the hurdles we need to bring down to make all citizens truly equal, and the Gender Equality Index does just that. In our fight against unemployment, improving job opportunities for women is a matter of fairness, but it is also good for society and good for the economy,’ says Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council. 

The Gender Equality Index, proposed by the European Commission and developed by the European Institute for Gender Equality, provides scores for each Member State and presents an EU average in each of the following critical areas of gender equality: work, money, knowledge, time, power and health. The areas of violence and intersecting inequalities are also considered as critical areas, but treated separately as they adopt a different perspective.  ‘I'm very glad that EIGE has developed a Gender Equality Index,’ says Michael Gustafson, Chair of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality of the European Parliament. ‘It enables each Member State to evaluate and compare amongst each other the progress they’ve made in various fields of gender equality, as well as where progress is most needed. I hope this tool will be used extensively and that it will lead to better knowledge and, most importantly, to further progress in gender equality.

Lowest level of gender equality in decision-making

The lowest score is in the area of power in decision-making, with an average score of only 38 at EU level: the EU and Member States need more women in decision-making. The greatest distance from gender equality is apparent in the representation of women and men on boards of the largest quoted companies, with an EU average score of only 23.3.  Measures such as a quota system could improve gender equality in this area and lead to a positive effect on all other areas.

Equal share of caring activities crucial to reaching the EU’s employment target

The European Union could more quickly reach the employment target set out in the 2020 growth strategy – at least 75 % employment rate of the EU population aged 20-64 – by improving gender equality in the area of time spent on unpaid caring and domestic activities. Women’s participation in the labour market is limited because of their disproportionate involvement in caring roles. The Gender Equality Index shows wide differences between women and men in this area, with an average score of only 39 at the EU level – well below halfway towards gender equality. To ensure sustainable growth for Europe, it is important to assure the equal share of hours spent on providing care between women and men. In parallel with creating new employment opportunities, it is crucial to improve childcare provision, as stated in Barcelona targets, and to intensify efforts to increase the involvement of fathers in childcare.

Combating violence against women seriously hampered by data gaps

EU institutions are committed to making the EU free from violence for all, but the Gender Equality Index shows that there are no comparable sex-disaggregated data in this area at EU level. Because gender-based violence against women remains one of the most pervasive human rights violations of our time, one that is rooted in gender inequalities and reinforces them, the Gender Equality Index calls for all policymakers to address this gap.  

The full report and all Gender Equality Index results are available at: 

Women and Men in the EU - Facts and Figures

In 1995, the Fourth World Conference on Women adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action for Equality, Development and Peace (BPfA). The BPfA is an agenda for women’s empowerment. It reaffirms the fundamental principle whereby the human rights of women and the girl child are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights. As an agenda for action, the BPfA seeks to promote and protect the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by women throughout their lives.

The BPfA addresses twelve critical areas of concern requiring particular action towards the advancement of women:

Link to EIGE site