Europe and Eastern European Summaries


Women have attained a high level of equality in the European nations and the Northern countries have the highest rankings from the UN for gender equity. Almost all the members of the European Economic Community have adopted CEDAW (the UN's Convention of Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women). The majority of these nations have established governmental quotas for women in government with France as the latest country to do so. Women are on par with men in terms of access to primary, secondary and tertiary education throughout Europe. In terms of entry into high-tech, Europe also spends about 30% of the global research and development expenditures in science and technology, second only to the US, which is at 38%. Moreover, Europe has approximately the same number of Internet users as the US of which women are approximately half. Also, women comprise 19% of the technical and professional workforce throughout Western Europe. However, as in other regions of the world, women are clustered more densely in the service industries, which are most vulnerable during times of structural adjustments.

Eastern Europe

Like Russia, in recent history, women have completed high levels of education in the Eastern European countries. In fact, it is on par with the men. In conjunction with education, women also have maintained a long tradition of working outside the home. Moreover, women have traditionally been a large percentage of the technical workers, scientists and engineers in these countries (13% for women and 10% for men in 1998). However, Eastern Europe's economy has suffered due to the unplanned liberalization of their economic structures and this has had the largest impact on women's unemployment, which far exceeds the unemployment figures for men. Moreover, in Eastern Europe, women's rights have never been very well defined because the assumption was that the socialist governments would make opportunities equitable as a premise of their policies. However, although this strategy did improve the lives of women compared to other regions of the world at the time, it did not put women on equal footing with men. Currently more is being done to promote gender equity as they join the European Economic Community (EEC) which enforces strict policies as outlined by CEDAW and the UN. Regardless, these countries have very conservative male dominated cultures that have been slow to change. Also, as these countries' economies have liberalized and their infrastructures are being revamped, as in other regions of the world, because women are clustered more densely in the service industries, they are most vulnerable to cutbacks in these sectors during periods of structural adjustments.


Euronet -- A WorldWide Directory of Women's Organizations

European Women Action
European Women's Lobby
UN WomenWatch