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Finland ranks fourth in EU Gender Equality Index — progress still slow despite upward trend

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
Publication date 29.10.2020 11.32 | Published in English on 29.10.2020 at 17.20
Press release 250/2020

Finland ranked fourth in the index measuring gender equality in the EU. Sweden holds the top place and Denmark comes second. France maintained its ranking from last year as the third best. Finland improved its overall score.

The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) released today its fifth index measuring gender equality in the EU. The Gender Equality Index shows what progress has been made on gender equality in the EU Member States since 2010.  

The Index measures the state of gender equality in six domains: work, money, knowledge, time, power and health. This year the Index focuses on digitalisation and its impact on working life and gender equality.

Finland improved its score from last year but long-term progress is slow

Sweden and Denmark have ranked among the top countries since 2010 when the first Gender Equality Index was released. Earlier, Finland was also placed in the top three countries. Last year, however, France passed Finland, and it maintained its ranking this year although Finland’s score increased more. Finland’s total score increased by 1.3 points from last year, which is one of the greatest increases in the Index. France improved its overall score by 0.5 points.  

Between 2010 and 2020, Finland’s progress has, however, been slower. During the ten-year period, Finland’s score has improved by 1.6 points while Sweden’s score has improved by 3.7 points, Denmark’s by 2.2 points and France’s by 7.6 points. The EU average has increased by 4.1 points since 2010. 

Finland’s Index score is now 74.7. The EU average is 67.9.  

Greater representation of women in decision-making positions increased Finland’s score

Finland’s score increased the most in the domain of power. The increase was 5.2 points since the last edition of the Index (+2.8 points since 2010). Gender equality improved not only in political and economic decision-making but also in social decision-making.  

The increase is due to the fact, for example, that women’s representation in the 2019 parliamentary elections and the Government increased, as did the share of women on the boards of large listed companies and different governing boards. 

The changes are relatively small in other domains. Finland’s scores increased in the domains of work and knowledge, but they dropped in the domains of money and health.    

Despite the increase, Finland’s score for the domain of knowledge is below the EU average, and the score for gender segregation in education is nearly 10 points below the EU average. According to the indicators used for the Gender Equality Index, Finland ranks at the bottom in gender segregation in education. 

Digitalisation poses a risk of gender inequality and gender-based discrimination

Women and men use the internet daily to a more or less equal extent across the EU. However, the percentage of older women and women with lower education who have never had the chance to use the internet is higher when compared to men in the same group.

Women are also in a clear minority in terms of graduates in ICT-related fields (20%) and people in ICT jobs (18%). The proportion of women working in ICT jobs has decreased by four percentage points since 2010. 

There are also much fewer women among scientists and engineers in the high-technology sectors likely to be mobilised in the design and development of new digital technologies. Digitalisation has created new jobs that are often concentrated in the male-dominated ICT and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sectors.

The majority of workers in the platform economy are men (2/3). Although the platform economy can promote the reconciliation of work and family life, it does not seem to change the division of care responsibilities within the family. Platform work also poses challenges for the application of the EU’s gender equality and non-discrimination legislation. Platform workers may be excluded from social security, including parental leave.

The report also draws attention to potential ethical implications and human rights risks associated with the development of artificial intelligence (AI), such as gender bias and discrimination, and the new forms of online sexual harassment brought by digitalisation.

“Finland has made progress towards gender equality but there is still work to be done. The effects of digitalisation on gender equality need to be monitored closely and measures need to be taken at both the national and EU levels. The implementation of the Government Action Plan for Gender Equality and the EU Gender Equality Strategy is one of the most important tools for promoting gender equality,” says Thomas Blomqvist, Minister for Nordic Cooperation and Equality.  


Anna Abrahamsson, Special Adviser to the Minister, tel. +358 2951 50029 [email protected]
Eeva Raevaara, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 2951 63205 [email protected]