The Covid-19 pandemic has likely exacerbated the income gap between men and women, a new report has revealed.
he 2021 gender equality index from the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), has said that although there has been “fragile” progress for women that “big losses are emerging”, in particular economically.
The index published by the EIGE – which is an autonomous body of the European Union – has ranked Ireland seventh out of 27 EU member states.
However, the report has warned all member states of the EU that if appropriate income support isn’t implemented that “the feminisation of poverty will accelerate post-pandemic.”
It notes that the income gap has likely been exacerbated because more women than men in the EU lost their income due to Covid-19 as they had to assume to care duties, including homeschooling.
Although Ireland ranked seventh overall in the index, the report warns that is it only one of eight countries where more women than men are dying of mental and behavioural disorders.
Ireland also has one of the highest gaps between boys’ and girls’ physical activity, and along with Malta and Poland has “the most restrictive abortion laws”.
The report states that abortion can be considered safe only “when it is performed without the risk of criminal or legal sanction, stigmatisation, stress or isolation” and notes that Ireland is one of 11 member states that imposes a mandatory waiting period between seeking an abortion and getting one.
Ireland scores well in its overall health ranking, with researchers noting: “Only in Ireland do women and men equally perceive being in good health.”
It received a score of 91.3, which is above the EU average of 87.8.
The overall score for the EU, which includes areas of work, money, education, power, time-use, health, and violence was 68.
Ireland scored over the EU average at 73.1. Sweden was the highest-ranking state, followed by Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Finland and Spain.
The report also found that women are over-represented among ‘essential’ workers in the EU, including in health care, education, and food retail.
It added: “Their frontline status means that not only are they among those most exposed to Covid-19, but they also experience high levels of work-related stress and emotional exhaustion.”
Along with being over-represented among ‘essential’ workers, women are more likely to have prolonged adverse impacts from the pandemic due to the “highly unequal distribution of unpaid care duties.”
In Ireland, 89pc of women and 48pc of men cook and clean within the household everyday. This compares to 78pc of women in the EU and 32pc of men.
Women also had lower levels of mental wellbeing than men in each of the three pandemic waves.
Ireland received its lowest score in the area of power, with just 58.4. This remains above the EU average in this area which is at 55.
Ireland fared well in the increasing number of women election candidates, however, the report notes that just 26pc of Government ministers are women compared to the EU average of 34pc.