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European women’s work-life balance has deteriorated since the COVID outbreak study

By Dina Kartit

(Reuters) – The work-life balance of European women has deteriorated since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, according to a report by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE).

EIGE’s 2022 Gender Equality Index, which has a thematic focus on care, showed that the pandemic has increased informal and unpaid care at home, particularly under pressure from women.

Women in the survey were more likely to experience interruptions while telecommuting than men, the report said. On average, 20% of telecommuting mothers cannot work for an hour without being disturbed by children, compared to 15% of telecommuting fathers.

The disruption to childcare also affected women’s incomes. They were more likely to work fewer hours, miss work, take unpaid leave, or stop working altogether.

“While the full magnitude of the social and economic impact is still unfolding, before and during the pandemic, women were more likely to be unemployed or working fewer hours than they wanted,” the report, published Wednesday, said.

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

Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands performed best, while Greece, Romania and Hungary were at the bottom.

Women in positions of authority have largely driven this modest growth, although they are still under-represented in politics as they make up just over a third of members of regional and local/municipal legislatures and 33% of members of national parliaments, according to EIGE .

There is a persistent gender gap among key decision-makers in large companies and financial institutions in the EU, with women making up 8% of CEOs, 21% of executives and 34% of non-executive directors by the first half of 2022, EIGE said.

(Reporting by Dina Kartit; editing by Alison Williams)