Eastern Europe and Central Asia
With an average remaining gap of 29.3% the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region ranks fourth globally, slightly behind Latin America and the Caribbean and about 5% below Western Europe’s regional average. Overall, the performance of countries across the region is somewhat less divergent than in other regions. The gap between the top-ranked countries in the region, Slovenia, Latvia and Bulgaria—which score in the top 20 of the overall Index and have closed 78%, 76% and 76% of their overall gender gap, respectively—and the lowest-ranked countries, Georgia, Hungary and Tajikistan—which have closed 68%, 67% and 64% of their overall gender gap, respectively—is within a range of no more than 10%, with the exception of Tajikistan.
The difference in gender gap size between the highest-ranked and lowest-ranked countries is 5.6% for Educational Attainment and 4% for Health and Survival, with three out of 26 countries—Latvia, Czech Republic and Slovak Republic—fully closing both their Health and Survival and Educational Attainment gender gaps. However, four countries from the region—Georgia, Albania, Azerbaijan and Armenia—remain among the lowest-performing countries in the entire Index on the Health and Survival subindex. Differences in gender parity are significantly higher on the Economic Participation and Opportunity and Political Empowerment subindexes, with a 29% and 32% difference, respectively, in gender gap size between the region’s best- and worst-performing countries. Fourteen of the 26 countries in the region have closed at least 70% of their gender gap on Economic Participation and Opportunity, including two—Belarus and Latvia—that have crossed the 80% mark. In terms of Political Empowerment, 10 of the 26 countries have closed between 20% and 40% of their gender gaps, while 16 countries have only closed less than 20% of their gap.
With regard to year-on-year progress, out of the 26 countries from the region covered by the Index this year, 12 countries have increased their overall scores compared to last year, while 14 have decreased their overall scores.
The highest-ranked country in the region is Slovenia (11), which defends its regional top spot despite slipping out of the Index’s global top 10 due to a widening gender gap in women in parliament as well as wage equality, despite a small improvement in women’s labour force participation.
The second and third spots in the region continue to be held by Latvia (17) and Bulgaria (18). The former rises several spots this year due to progress in women’s labour force participation and wage equality, while the latter’s ranking remains unchanged, balancing progress on closing the gender gap in legislators, senior officials and managers against a decrease in wage equality. Both countries are followed by Lithuania (24), which moves up several places due to progress on the Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex, despite re-opening its gender gap in primary and secondary education, and Belarus (28), which likewise offsets progress on closing its economic gender gap with a slightly wider gender gap in education.
Estonia (33), Albania (34), Moldova (35) and Serbia (38) form a cluster around an overall gender parity level of 73%. Estonia recovers part of last year’s lost ground due to improvements on the Political Empowerment subindex, while Albania and Serbia also improve due to narrower gender gaps in labour force participation and, in the case of Serbia, Political Empowerment. Moldova actually moves down five ranks, driven by a reversal of progress in gender parity among legislators, senior officials and managers. Poland’s performance (42) remains essentially stable, balancing a slightly wider gender gap in primary education with modest improvements in Economic Participation and Opportunity.
Croatia (59), Kazakhstan (60), Bosnia and Herzegovina (62) and Romania (63) are nearly tied, having closed slightly more than 71% of their overall gender gaps. Among this group, only Bosnia and Herzegovina advances in the ranking, due to improved gender parity on the Health and Survival, Political Empowerment and Economic Participation and Opportunity subindexes. Croatia and Romania both move down several places despite small improvements across a range of dimensions, whereas Kazakhstan sees a widening of its gender gap in women’s labour force participation.
Ukraine (65), Macedonia, FYR (66) and Montenegro (69) follow closely. Despite narrowing its gender gap in estimated earned income and legislators, senior officials and managers, Ukraine sees itself overtaken by a number of faster-rising countries this year. Macedonia, FYR records a significant improvement in women’s representation in parliament, while Montenegro rises several ranks on the back of narrowing its gender gaps on the Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex and in healthy life expectancy.
The Russian Federation (75) fully closes its gender gap in secondary education this year and sees improvements in wage equality and women’s share of legislators, senior officials and managers. However, other countries’ faster progress on the Political Empowerment subindex, in particular, means the country has moved down a few ranks.
The Czech Republic (82), Slovak Republic (83) and Kyrgyz Republic (86) are almost tied at having closed slightly more than 69% of their overall gender gap. Among them, the two neighbouring countries are moving in opposite directions. On the one hand, Czech Republic gains several places due to a reduced wage gap and an increase in women’s representation in parliament; on the other, Slovak Republic moves down several ranks due to a widening gender gap in representation of women among legislators, senior officials and managers. By contrast, the Kyrgyz Republic remains stable, with few significant changes in performance this year.
At the lower ranks of the regional table, Azerbaijan (97) and Armenia (98) both see improvements in closing their education gender gap, despite remaining among the worst-performing countries globally on the Health and Survival subindex. In particular, they record some of the lowest female-to-male sex ratios at birth in the world, just above China’s. They are followed closely by Georgia (99)—which also improves on Educational Attainment, yet reverses previous gains in wage equality and women’s share of senior leadership positions—and Hungary (102), which sees a slight uptick of women in parliament despite remaining the region’s, and one of the world’s, lowest-performing countries with regard to closing the Political Empowerment gender gap. Tajikistan (123) takes this year’s bottom spot in the region, slipping 28 places due to a widening Economic Participation and Opportunity gender gap, driven by updated data availability regarding women’s share of legislators, senior officials, and managers as well as labour force participation and estimated earned income.