A Czech academic is calling into question the European Union’s billion-euro investments in so-called gender equality policy, saying it is not delivering the results that those in Brussels originally envisioned.
Jitka Fialová, from the Faculty of Health and Social Studies of the University of South Bohemia, recently caught attention with her lecture at the QAK 2021 conference which questioned the poor results of gender equality in the countries that champion it the most.
Comparing the data, Fialová concluded that in many countries that are at the top of the gender equality ladder, the situation of women is paradoxically worse in some respects than in those countries that do not emphasize gender issues as much. In an interview with Czech news portal Info.cz, Fialová explained why, in her opinion, this finding should lead to a change.
“I juxtaposed data from countries where there is very high equality of women and men, which are the Nordic countries or the countries of Western Europe, as opposed to Central and Eastern Europe, where the so-called gender equality index does not reach such values. I compared, for example, the very credible Eurostat statistics on domestic violence, rapes, murders of women, or recognized studies on women quotas in management positions. And it turned out that there is a discrepancy between theory and reality,” Fialová said, explaining the findings presented in her lecture.
Gender equality but higher rates of violence against women
According to her, that data proves that in countries that are considered the most progressive by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), the highest number of cases of the most serious forms of violence against women per capita takes place.
In the interview, Fialová mentioned, for example, England and Wales, which are countries considered to be leaders in promoting progressive gender policies. However, in these countries, statisticians record by far the highest number of cases of sexual violence per 100,000 inhabitants, a total of 275 per 100,000, of which 90 percent are against women. In Sweden — again considered a model of the gender equality pursuit — these numbers are also high. There are 190 cases of sexual violence and 75 rapes per 100,000 inhabitants.
“In the Czech Republic, there are about 13 cases of sexual violence and six rapes per 100,000 inhabitants. At the same time, we are certainly not considered to be at the top in the pursuit of equality. In the EU, we are sixth-to-last,” added Fialová.
When asked whether this discrepancy manifests in other areas, as well, Fialová confirmed such a thought. She pointed out that, for example, in the Nordic countries, despite introducing a mandatory 40 percent quota for women, there are only 13 percent of women in management positions in the private sector. There are no quotas in Central Europe, but about 32 percent of women are in the top working posts.
“It seems that the energy and resources spent on the implementation of these measures do not correspond to the overall result,” Fialová pointed out.
‘One size cannot fit all’
“The gender equality movement, promoted especially by feminists, provides exactly the same guidelines for achieving gender equality in all countries. In other words, proponents of this policy seem to believe that the same goal can be achieved by the same means everywhere. Gender audits, gender budgeting, gender monitoring, planning, indicators should help everywhere … There are quite a few of those tools. But one size cannot always fit all,” emphasized Fialová.
The EU has set aside €6.17 billion for the gender policy in the 2014–2020 Multiannual Financial Framework.
“In the next period, the amount will probably be even higher, because the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, is very much in favor of this policy. There is a huge political will to promote gender mainstreaming in all EU policies,” said Fialová.
She further explained that within the EU, gender policy really has above-standard support. There are MEPs who criticize it, but they are usually outvoted. According to Fialová, those who feed on the gender area do not want to give up their income, especially as the EU financially supports the gender policy. And so they interpret numbers in the statistics completely differently than do the critics of this policy, Fialová pointed out.
So why does she think the gender equality programs are failing to such an extent? Probably because they are too strong-willed, not based on natural needs, and do not expect at all that a man and a woman can simply agree to create conditions that suit both genders, Fialová believes.
“It seems to me that current proponents of feminism want laws, obligations, division of roles based on a 50:50 quota in every area. As if this could be ordered and enforced. The most radical ones even criticize women who are comfortable with spending time with their children and do not want a career or enter politics, that is, those women who disagree with them and do not want quotas but prefer being evaluated based on their capabilities. That does not lead to greater freedom, but, on the contrary, an even greater subjugation. At the same time, the pressure for equality can directly hamper women’s growth,” Fialová concluded.
Title image: European Commissioner for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova, center, speaks during a media conference on the Gender Equality Strategy at EU headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, March 5, 2020. At right is European Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)