Monitoring EU regional gender equality using 
the Female Achievement and Disadvantage indices 

In some EU regions women are able to thrive, while in others they are held back.
This data story allows you to explore two indices released in October 2021 which reveal in which EU regions women are achieving more and in which women are at a disadvantage compared to men: the Female Achievement Index (FemAI) and the Female Disadvantage Index (FemDI).
The findings from the two indices are set out in detail in this working paper.  The indices point to the following trends:
  • On average, women in more developed regions are able to achieve more and are at less of a disadvantage, while most women in less developed regions face big challenges;
  • Within countries, women in capital regions tend to achieve more and are at less of a disadvantage;
  • In general, regions with a lower female achievement index have a lower gross domestic product per capita, while regions with a higher level of female achievement have a higher level of human development;
  • Finally, the quality of government is higher in regions where women achieve more.
The two indices are calculated for 235 EU regions at the NUTS-2  level and are based on 33 indicators grouped into seven domains. Due to missing data, the indices could not be calculated for the French outermost regions.
Using this tool you can explore the indices and the underlying open data using the interactive, comparative charts below.

1. Why two indices?

The regional gender equality monitor 2021 consists of two composite indices, the Female Achievement Index (FemAI) and the Female Disadvantage Index (FemDI). They address two specific and complementary aspects of gender equality.
  • The first index, FemAI, measures the female level of achievement compared to the best regional female performance. FemAI varies between 0 (lowest performance) and 100 (best performance).
  • The second index, FemDI, assesses the female disadvantage by measuring regional differences when women are doing worse than men. The lowest possible score is 0 (no disadvantage) and the highest possible score is 100 (largest disadvantage).
Female disadvantage and achievement are assessed in 235 regions at the NUTS-2 level. These two indices are the first to capture aspects of gender equality at the regional level for almost the totality of EU regions.

The conceptual framework

The two indices are based on 33 indicators grouped into seven domains that are relevant across all regions and contexts.
The indicators are grouped into the following seven domains: 1. Work & Money, 2. Knowledge, 3. Time, 4. Power, 5. Health, 6. Safety, Security & Trust and 7. Quality of Life.

Seven domains and 33 indicators

The gender equality monitor captures 33 issues that are relevant across all regions and contexts. These are grouped into the following seven domains: 1. Work and money; 2. Knowledge; 3. Time; 4. Power; 5. Health; 6. Safety, security and trust; and 7. Quality of life.
The Work and money domain measures: first, the extent to which women and men can benefit from equal access to employment and good working conditions; and second, the gender inequalities in access to financial resources. It combines four indicators: the full-time and part-time employment rate, excluding involuntary part-time work; the unemployment rate; employed persons with tertiary education; and mean annual earnings.
The Knowledge domain measures gender inequalities in educational attainment, participation in education and training, gender segregation and leavers from education. It is measured through four indicators: the percentage of tertiary graduates; participation in formal and non-formal education and training; early leavers from education and training; and young people neither in employment nor in education and training.
The Time domain measures how women and men engage in social activities. Concretely, it measures gender gaps in women’s and men’s engagement in sport, cultural or leisure activities outside of their home, combined with their engagement in voluntary and charitable activities. It combines four indicators: the percentage of people regularly participating in leisure activities; those donating money to a charity; those helping a stranger who needed help; and those volunteering time to an organisation.
The Power domain measures gender equality in decision-making positions in the political field. The domain comprises five indicators: the share of ministers in national governments; the share of members in national parliaments; the share of members in regional assemblies; the share of members in regional executives; and the share of members in local or municipal councils. Regional assemblies  and executives exist in diverse territorial units, from NUTS-1 level to NUTS-3 level. The data from municipal councils have been collected in various territorial units, from NUTS 0 level to NUTS-3 level. For Member States where regional assemblies and executives do not exist , national figures from parliaments are imputed for regional assemblies and national figures from governments are imputed for regional executives.
The Health domain measures health status and access to health services. It combines six indicators: self-perceived health; health problems; life expectancy; death rate caused by malignant neoplastic and cardiovascular diseases; population without unmet needs for medical examination; and population without unmet needs for dental examination.
The Safety, security and trust domain measures the perceptions of people concerning their personal safety and security in the areas where they live and the trust they feel towards their family, their social circle and authorities. It consists of four indicators: share of people who feel safe walking alone at night; share of people who have relatives or friends to count on for help; share of people who believe that women are treated with respect; and share of people who voice their opinion to a public official.
The Quality of life domain captures the level of well-being using the following six indicators: the share of people who feel well-rested; the share of people who smile or laugh a lot; those who experience enjoyment; those who feel satisfied with life; those who have opportunities to make friends; and those who feel satisfied with the freedom in their life
Both official statistics and other data are used in the monitor. Over half of the indicators (18 out of 33 indicators) capture people's perceptions. Most data points refer to the year 2019. For some indicators, NUTS-0 or NUTS-1 data was assigned to NUTS-2 regions because data was not available at the NUTS-2 level.

2. Comparing gender equality

EU vs Country level comparison

- Female Achievement Index
Filter the charts on the right to compare Member States index values under the 7 domains with the average of EU value on the left.  
- Female Disadvantage Index

Country comparisons 

The achievements of women and the disadvantages they face differ significantly among and within Member States.
- Female Achievement Index (FemAI) country comparisons
- Female Disadvantave Index (FemDI) country overview comparisons

Regional variations (scatterplots)

The highest level of female achievement is seen in Nordic regions and in the majority of Austrian regions. At the opposite end of the spectrum, regions in south-eastern Member States are performing at a much lower level. Female achievement tends to be higher in capital regions in almost all Member States.
Women in Nordic countries, France and Spain face the smallest disadvantage, while women in Greece and Romania face the biggest disadvantage. The four regions with the smallest disadvantage are Auvergne, in France, followed by the Spanish regions of La Rioja and Galicia and the capital region of Finland (Helsinki-Uusimaa).
- Female Achievement Index (FemAI) in 235 regions (scatterplot)
- Female Disadvantage Index (FemDI) in 235 regions (scatterplot)

Comparing index variations within a country 

In the charts below you can compare the FemAI and FemDI values for regions within a Member States by changing the country filtered in the two charts. 
County regional index values for FemAI
Country regional index values for FemDI

3. Mapping female advantage and disadvantage

Explore the interactive map below using the filters in the top left hand corner to explore the FemAI performance (green default map) or the FemDI (pink-mauve maps).
The drop down filter (in orange) allows you to choose the component domain index values.  

Comparing female achievement and disadvantage

EU regions can be mapped into four groups according to whether they score above or below the EU average in terms of female achievement and disadvantage.
Having an above-average level of achievement and a below-average level of disadvantage is the best combination, and fortunately almost half the EU population lives in such a region. Most regions in north-western Member States and Spain belong in this category.
The second-best combination is high achievement and high disadvantage. This means that although women achieve quite a lot in these regions, men achieve even more. This grouping can be found in Czechia, Slovenia and some north-western regions, but it is not so common, with only 11 % of the EU population living in this type of region.
The third-best combination is low achievement and low disadvantage. In these regions, female achievement is below average. However, this low achievement is not due to disadvantages but more due to general low achievement. This group is relatively small, consisting of only 13 regions: three each in Belgium and Bulgaria; two each in Croatia and Lithuania; and one each in Latvia, Poland and Portugal. Only 4 % of the EU population lives in these 13 regions.
The least-favourable combination is low achievement and high disadvantage. This means women are not able to achieve a lot and suffer a big disadvantage relative to the men in the region, who also do not perform that well. This is quite prevalent, with 36 % of the EU population living in such regions, mostly in eastern and southern Member States.

4. More information

  • The Working Paper "" is available hereThe full presentation of the working paper is made on this webpage.
    The working paper was developed by the Competence Centre on Composite Indicators and Scoreboards (COIN) at the Monitoring, Indicators and Impact Evaluation Unit (I.1) of the Directorate-General Joint Research Centre in collaboration with the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy.
  • The #CohesionOpenDataset of FemAI and FemDI scores is here.
  • A dedicated website within the JRC Urban data Platform offers a rich set of interactive maps and charts for a complete overview of how a region compares to the EU average, to a different region in the EU, or to the average region in more developed, transition and less developed regions in the EU.
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Authors: Laura DE DOMINICIS / Lewis DIJKSTRA / John WALSH
Text: October 2021