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EU agencies deepen cooperation at important time for gender equality in Europe

Image of Ivailo Kalfin, Eurofound Executive Director, and Carlien Scheele, Director of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) at Eurofound on 18 November 2021

Ivailo Kalfin, Eurofound Executive Director, and Carlien Scheele, Director of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) met in Dublin today on the sidelines of Eurofound’s annual Management Board meeting, to discuss latest developments in gender equality in Europe and sign a joint action plan defining future collaboration between the two Agencies to further to tackle the key challenges in this domain. 

The two Agencies enhanced cooperation in light of the multifaceted and largely negative consequences of the pandemic on gender equality. In 2021 this joint work has included a joint policy brief on convergence in gender equality across the Union in the decade preceding the pandemic, and a joint webinar on the current state of play, looking at gender gaps in pay, earnings and pensions; gender segregation in employment; and care responsibilities. The joint action plan for 2022 foresees a further enhancement of cooperation and communication between the Agencies. 

Joint research from Eurofound and EIGE has shown that the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis could roll back recent progress in gender equality in Europe, with disproportionate care responsibilities and work–life conflicts associated with telework and hybrid working arrangements further complicating women’s progress on the labour market. 

EIGE’s Gender Equality Index is a key benchmark for gender equality in the EU, with the recently published 2021 edition of the Index covering a range of indicators in the domains of society and life most affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Gender equality is also an important component of Eurofound’s work, with the agency dedicating the forthcoming 2021 edition of the European Jobs Monitor to gender gaps and how employment structures influence gender equality. The joint research, produced in cooperation with the European Commission, will be published in December. 

Speaking following the meeting:

The close and positive cooperation between Eurofound and EIGE is vital considering what we are currently seeing in terms of the impacts of COVID-19 on gender equality, both short-term and potentially long-term. The priority of both Agencies is to ensure that the short-term impacts on care, work–life balance and mental health, disproportionately felt by women in the aftermath of lockdowns, do not become long-term structural issues that further set gender equality back by decades.

— Ivailo Kalfin, Eurofound Executive Director

Europe has made fragile gains in gender equality, but big losses are emerging as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a particular economic fallout for women. EIGE will work closely with Eurofound to ensure that policymakers have the information and resources required for a gender-sensitive recovery, that greater equality is achieved in both paid and unpaid work, and that structural imbalance on the labour market is challenged at every level.

— Carlien Scheele, Director of the European Institute for Gender Equality

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Photo: Carlien Scheele, Director of the European Institute for Gender Equality (right), with Ivailo Kalfin, Eurofound's Executive Director, at Eurofound Dublin, 18 November 2021

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