Europe and North America

With an average regional index score of 79.1, Europe and North America tops the SDG Gender Index. The region is home to nine of the top ten performing countries covered by the index, and 18 countries total in the region achieve “good” overall scores on the index. Of the five regions covered by the index, Europe and North America is the only one without any country with a “very poor” overall index score. Yet significant differences exist between countries in the region in terms of overall index scores.

Gender Equality Context

In general, the Europe and North America is characterised by particularly good performance on SDG 1: Poverty, SDG 3: Health, SDG 4: Education, SDG 6: Water & Sanitation, and SDG 7: Energy. The regional averages on SDG 5: Gender Equality, SDG 9: Industry, Infrastructure and Innovation are good relative to other regions, but the scores leave room for improvement: on average, the region is farthest from meeting the index targets for SDG 13: Climate (58.0, “very poor”) and SDG 17: Partnerships (52.8, “very poor”). This is driven in large part by the low scores across the region on indicators measuring the extent to which states are committed to disaster risk reduction through the Sendai Framework and government spending on social assistance.

Key Findings

  • Though many countries in Europe and North America have very high scores on individual indicators, no country scores perfectly on all indicators under any goal. Every country in the region has its own mix and depth of challenges to address, demonstrating the universal relevance of the SDG Gender Index for developed and developing nations alike.
  • Eastern European countries, on average, perform worse across most goals compared to other countries in the region, with Baltic States performing significantly better than Balkan States.
  • Notable outliers or surprise stories in the region include Slovenia, which places 6th overall in the index, and Russia (59th). Canada (8th) far outperforms its neighbour to the south. The United States (28th) has its overall score driven down by poor performance on indicators related to poverty, women’s participation in the economy, and inequality.
  • Modern methods of family planning enable girls and women to makes choices about their own bodies, avoid unwanted or dangerous pregnancies, and to space out births. The region has significant room for improvement on this indicator – it fares worse on average than Latin America and the Caribbean, no country in the region meets the 100% target, and more than half fall under 75%.

Thematic Deep Dive

Women in science and technology research positions

The 2019 SDG Gender Index finds that FYR Macedonia has 54% women in STEM research compared to 23% in Germany.

The indicator 9d: Proportion of women in science and technology research positions shows interesting variation within the Europe and North America region that does not track with income level, level of overall investment in science and technology research, or performance on the overall index.

Seventeen countries in Europe and North America are less than three-quarters of the way to parity. Eight countries in the region are close to full parity between men and women in science and technology research positions, which is a lower proportion of countries reaching full parity than in Asia and the Pacific or Latin America and the Caribbean.

Countries that have reached parity or nearly reached parity include Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Georgia, Latvia and Moldova (one of region’s lowest performing countries overall). In fact, on this indicator, the average score of the region’s bottom 10 overall performers on the index is better on than that of the top ten overall performers.

Many Eastern European countries – and Balkan states, in particular – perform well. Two of the eight highest ranked countries globally in terms of female STEM researchers are located in Eastern Europe.