The European Institute for Gender Equality: History, Objectives & Operations Video

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  • 0:02 Introducing EIGE
  • 1:02 EIGE History
  • 1:47 The Gender Equality Index
  • 3:48 A Wealth of Information
  • 4:39 Working Toward Equality
  • 6:02 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amy Troolin

Amy has MA degrees in History, English, and Theology. She has taught college English and religious education classes and currently works as a freelance writer.

In this lesson, we will examine the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE). We will study its vision and mission, its history, and its primary activities.

Introducing EIGE

Did you know that equality between men and women is considered a fundamental right in the European Union? Equality has been a core value since the Union's very beginning. Did you know that studies have shown that equality between men and women does not yet exist in many areas of the European Union life? Did you know that the EU is attempting to remedy that situation? Did you know about EIGE?

The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) is an independent organization within the European Union (EU). Its official vision is 'making equality between women and men a reality for all Europeans and beyond,' and it claims the mission of becoming Europe's center for knowledge about gender equality. In order to fulfill its vision and mission, the EIGE systematically studies gender issues, distributes a wide range of information about gender issues, and actively works toward gender equality.

EIGE History

Before we discuss the EIGE's current activities, let's pause for a moment and reflect on its history. Although gender equality issues have been important to the European Union since its very beginning, the idea for an organization like the EIGE doesn't appear until 1995 when it was suggested at a seminar in Sweden.

Five years later, in 2000, the European Council officially recognized that such an organization would benefit the EU, and in 2002, a feasibility study concluded that an institute focused on gender equality could play a key role in studying and promoting gender issues. In spite of such findings, the wheels turned slowly. The EIGE was not formally established until May of 2007 and did not officially begin its activities until June of 2010.

The Gender Equality Index

One of the EIGE's primary pursuits is to systematically study the current reality of gender equality with an eye to finding out how far the European Union has already come in its quest toward equality and how far it still has to go. To discover this, the EIGE has created the Gender Equality Index, which measures overall gender equality as well as gender equality in six core domains (work, knowledge, power, time, money, and health). Using a scale from 1 (no equality) to 100 (full equality), the Index assigns an overall rating, ratings for each domain, and individual ratings for each EU member nation.

Let's see how the Index works in practice. The 2010 overall gender equality rating for the European Union is 54.0. This means that while the EU has made progress toward equality, it still has a little less than halfway to go if it wants full equality between women and men. The ratings for the core domains provide more specific information about which areas are improving and which still have a ways to go:

  • Work, which looks at the labor market, employment rates, segregation in job sectors, and work patterns and quality, received a rating of 69.0.
  • Money, which examines financial resources, economic situations, and poverty risk, rated 68.9.
  • Knowledge, which measures levels of education and training, received a 48.9.
  • Time, which focuses on how much time women and men spend on unpaid activities like homemaking, childcare, and charitable activities, rated 38.8.
  • Power, which looks at participation and decision making in the economic and political spheres, rated 38.0.
  • Health, which concentrates on health status and access to health care, received a 90.1.

Some member nations rated higher than the overall averages, while others received lower ratings. In any case, the Index offers a wealth of information about the current state of gender equality in Europe.

A Wealth of Information

The EIGE wants to make sure that this information, as well as other materials about gender equality, is readily available to the public. If knowledge is half the battle, as the old saying goes, then the EIGE wants to make sure people have knowledge at their fingertips.

The EIGE's online Resource & Documentation Centre (RDC) offers access to over 240,000 gender equality resources, including the Gender Equality Index, EU policies, online books and articles, scholarly studies, databases, newsletters, EIGE publications, and more. The RDC conveniently organizes these resources into categories like gender-based violence, work-life balance, gender training, stereotypes, gender and the media, gender and the climate, and others.

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