Gender Equality Index 2021: what does it say on disability?

Gender Equality Index 2021: what does it say on disability?

The European Institute on Gender Equality published its 2021 Gender Equality Index on 28th of October 2021. The EU scores 68 points out of 100 in the Gender Equality Index. This is a microscopic increase of just 0.6 points since last year’s edition.

The Gender Equality Index score provides information on gender equality in all 27 EU Member States in several areas (such as work, health, money and power). Most data is disaggregated by disability. The Index also provides information on how well the EU does on average.

Health, disability and gender equality

This year Gender Equality Index 2021 report focused on health. It includes more than 100 references to disability.

About 7% of women and 6% of men with disabilities report unmet needs for medical services in the EU, but the levels are much higher in Estonia (29 % of women and 23 % of men), Romania (25 % of women and 23 % of men) and Greece (25 % of women and 22 % of men). In Denmark, Sweden, Hungary, Bulgaria, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, among those with disabilities, men are more likely than women to report unmet medical needs.

The most common reason cited for unmet healthcare needs is cost. Women are more likely to mention finances as an obstacle to seeking healthcare, with 33% of women and 29% of men saying that they cannot afford it (44). Women and men with disabilities and women with a low level of education are more likely than others to have little income because they either are not in paid work or are in precarious jobs (EIGE, 2017b).

Lack of accessibility is another issue that affect access to health by persons with disabilities. Older adults with disabilities and those living in rural areas experience difficulties in accessing appropriate transport to get to their medical healthcare providers (Gibson and O’Connor, 2010). Physical or structural barriers make it difficult for women with disabilities, especially when they live in rural areas, to access healthcare services, and as a result they may be dissuaded from attending screening for cervical or breast cancer (Ramjan et al., 2016). Furthermore, people with disabilities may have poor access to health promotion and disease prevention initiatives. This results in women with disabilities being less likely to receive screening for breast and cervical cancer than women without disabilities, and men with disabilities are less likely to be screened for prostate cancer (WHO and World Bank, 2011).

Access the full report.

Other areas

On average in the EU:

  • Less women with disabilities are in full time employment. 20% of women with disabilities are in full time employment comparing to 29% of men with disabilities, 48% of women without disabilities and 64% of men without disabilities. Comparing to the 2020 Index, the percentage of women with disabilities in full time employment of decreased (by -0,6 point) while the one of men with disabilities increased (by +0,5 point).
  • Women with disabilities continue to have a lower mean equivalised net income. It is of 16.822 eur/year comparing to 17.746 for men with disabilities, 20.100 for women without disabilities and 20.935 for men without disabilities.
  • Women with disabilities are graduating less from university. 15% of women with disabilities graduate from tertiary education, comparing to 17% of men with disabilities, 30% of women without disabilities and 28% of men without disabilities. This is less than the 2020 Index with a decrease of -0,2 points for women with disabilities and -0,5 point for men with disabilities.

Consult the Gender Equality Index 2021.


Marine Uldry – Human Rights Officer
Twitter: @Marine_Uldry