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Spain is more than 20 points behind Sweden in equality, weighed down by its disastrous conciliation

Real equality between men and women is not achieved in any country in the European Union, but there are some who do better in the exam and others who pass almost by the hair. Spain has risen from ninth to eighth place from a classification produced by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE, for its acronym in English). But still far from the first. Sweden, an example country of feminist and conciliation policies, is almost 22 points ahead of Spain -with 83.8 points the first and 72 in the Spanish case- in this index in which 0 is absolute inequality and 100 would be equivalent to full equality.

Sweden is followed by Denmark and France and at the bottom, with the worst performers Greece and Hungary, both just above 50 points. Reconciliation is the great pending issue both in the EU and, in particular, in Spain, where it is the factor that most weighs down its results. EIGE estimates that at the current rate of progress, just half a point in a year, it will take more than 60 years for full equality.

The 182-page report was presented this Thursday by videoconference from Berlin. It is prepared with data from 2018, prior to the pandemic, although it already includes a first diagnosis of how the global health crisis is affecting women. The initial results point to the same thing that other organizations, such as the United Nations (UN) have pointed out: the world may be at risk of suffering an inequality pandemic. “There is a risk that the fragile advances made by women in the last decade will recede,” warns EIGE, adding that physical distancing measures have had a substantial impact on sectors that employ mostly women and that their employment falls more drastically than in the 2008 crisis. The closure of schools and centers for the elderly that took place during strict confinements increased the need to transfer care to the home, a change that also falls mainly on women.

“We have seen small and constant progress year after year, but we have reason to be concerned,” said EIGE director Carlien Scheele on Thursday. “The pandemic poses a serious threat to the advancement of gender equality. We cannot afford it. Now more than ever, policy makers will need to use the results of our Index to devise inclusive solutions that promote gender equality in our society, both during and after this crisis. “

The situation in Spain is better than the European average in this still photo and it is the one that has improved the most since the last exam. The joint EU score amounts to 67.9 points, almost four less than in the Spanish case. Since the previous index, Spain has risen almost two points, but it is precisely unpaid care work that has most hampered its progress. In the use of time, one of the six indicators measured by EIGE is where Spain comes off worst, with 64 points, even below the European average (65.7). This section measures both who is in charge of care and availability for leisure. It is characterized “by a persistent lack of progress” issue after issue, according to the report. The European institute insists once again that the lack of services – availability of nursery schools up to three years of age, professional caregivers or flexible hours – has “a profound relationship” with gender inequalities. And remember an especially relevant piece of information analyzed in previous editions. Care obligations keep 7.7 million Europeans out of the labor market compared to 450,000 men. Or what is the same, in Europe there is one caregiver for every 17 caregivers, which exacerbates the wage and pension gap.

The index dissects other aspects. In Work, it measures the type of contracts (full or part time) among other variables. In Spain and the EU, more than half of full-time contracts are held by men. The Spanish score in this section rises to 73.2 points, slightly above the average. The Money section mainly reviews resources and the economic situation and the salary gap. There Spain reaches 77.8 points and it is the second aspect in which it is below the EU, whose average is 80.6. In Knowledge, it is reviewed if men and women have equal access to university studies and what is the difference in the so-called STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics, in its acronym in English). Spain obtains 67.6 points in this section. The one that comes out best is in Health, which reviews access to health services, among other issues and is where Spain obtains 90 points compared to 88 for the European average.

The aspect in which there has been the most progress since 2010 is in the distribution of power and positions of responsibility. Spain has gone from 52.6 points to 59.4. The increase is due, above all, to the rise in representation in political power and the increased presence of women in economic power, an aspect in which it has doubled from 33 to 65 points. But here too there are differences. The presence of women in managerial positions in large companies is 27%, less than one in three. In the case of the Government, Parliament and the regional assemblies, it exceeds 40%, the minimum limit to consider that an institution is equal.