European women's work-life balance worsened since COVID outbreak-study

A woman walks inside an almost empty train station, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Madrid, Spain March 31, 2020. REUTERS/Sergio Perez
  • Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands top gender equality 2022 index
  • Teleworking women more likely to face work interruptions
  • Persisting gender gap among decision-makers, power positions

Nov 30 (Reuters) - European women's work-life balance has worsened since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, a European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) report shows.

The EIGE's Gender Equality Index 2022, which has a thematic focus on care, showed that the pandemic has increased informal and unpaid care at home, particularly pressuring women.

Women in the survey were more likely to face interruptions while teleworking than men, the report said. On average 20% of teleworking mothers unable to work for an hour without being interrupted by children, compared with 15% of teleworking fathers.

The disruption to childcare provision also hit women's income. They were more likely to cut back on working hours, miss work, take unpaid time-off, or quit the workforce altogether.

"While the full extent of the social and economic impact is still unfolding, before and throughout the pandemic women were more likely to be unemployed or to work fewer hours than they wished," the report published on Wednesday said.

Nonetheless, the index, which measures gender equality progress in the European Union, slightly increased to 68.6 points out of 100, 5.5 points higher than in 2010.

Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands were the top performers, while Greece, Romania and Hungary ranked at the bottom.

Women in positions of authority has largely driven this modest growth, although they remain underrepresented in politics, making up just over a third of members of regional and local/municipal legislatures and 33% of members of national parliaments, EIGE said.

There is a persisting gender gap among key decision-makers in major corporations and financial institutions in the EU, with women accounting for 8% of CEOs, 21% of executives, and 34% of non-executives in the first half of 2022, EIGE said.

Reporting by Dina Kartit; Editing by Alison Williams

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