With an average remaining gender gap of 25%, Western Europe is the highest-performing region in the Index this year. However, it is also one of the regions with the widest performance variation, seeing progress stall or even reverse across a range of dimensions this year. Western Europe is home to four of the top five countries in the Index—Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden—demonstrating the continued progress of the Nordic countries in closing their overall gender gaps. At the bottom ranks of the region, three countries have a remaining gender gap of more than 30%: Cyprus, Greece and Malta. Finland and France are the only two countries in the region to have fully closed both their Educational Attainment and Health and Survival gender gaps.
Of the 20 countries in the region covered by the Index this year, only two have improved their overall score over last year, while 18 have seen it decrease.
Iceland (1), Finland (2), Norway (3) and Sweden (4) defend their top positions in the Index on the back of their world-leading positions on the Political Empowerment subindex and continued strong performance on the Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex. However, the Index’s revised estimated earned income scale reveals that in the Nordic countries, as elsewhere, additional efforts will be required to fully close the gender gap in income. Ireland (6) maintains its global top position, building on its strengths in political representation. Switzerland (11) likewise continues to make progress on Political Empowerment, with more women in parliament, although its progress this year has not kept pace with that of the region’s other top performers on the Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex, placing the country just outside the overall top ten.
Similar to other high-income countries in the region, the Index’s updated estimated earned income scale reveals that Germany (13) is yet to fully close its gender gap in income, leading to a slight decline on its Economic Participation and Opportunity score. Its gender gap in Educational Attainment remains open and the country ranks among the bottom two of the region in this category. Further improvements have been made on Political Empowerment and it now ranks in the global top ten on this subindex. France (17) improves on labour force participation and female professional and technical workers. It is one of two countries in the region to have fully closed its gender gap on the Educational Attainment and Health and Survival subindexes. The Netherlands (16) and Denmark (19) have seen their progress stall on women’s labour force participation and estimated earned income. Regarding Educational Attainment, the gender gap re-opens in the Netherlands while it remains fully closed in Denmark. The United Kingdom (20) completes this year’s global top 20, with an overall slight decline in female legislators, senior officials and managers as well as professional and technical workers.
Belgium (24), Luxembourg (34), Spain (29) and Portugal (31) rank in the middle of the Western Europe region, with a decline in women parliamentarians in the former and an increase in the latter. Austria (52) and Italy (50) see a drop in their share of female professional and technical workers, with less than 57% of that gap now closed in Italy. The Western Europe regional table is completed by Greece (92), Malta (108), and Cyprus (84), which this year sees solid improvements across women’s labour force participation and its share of female legislators, senior officials and managers. While Cyprus has also improved its share of female members of parliament, the country remains the lowest-performing in the region on this indicator, with just over 10% of its gender gap now closed.