A Comparison of Gender Inequality between Turkey and the European Union Countries

What is gender inequality? It is not easy to give a sole answer to this question since gender inequality is a multi-dimensional concept. According to A. Parziale, gender inequality is defined as “allowing people different opportunities due to perceived differences based solely on issues of gender” (Parziale, 2008: 977). Although anyone can be exposed to gender-based inequality this issue is almost always addressed as peculiar to women (Parziale, 2008: 977).

As it is stated in the previous paragraph, since defining gender inequality is not an easy task, measuring and analysing gender differences in different countries require to take into account multifaceted structure of this phenomenon. Currently, there are two indexes which are widely used by researchers to make comparisons among countries. The first one is the Gender Inequality Index (GII) which is calculated by United Nations Development Programme and the second one is the Global Gender Gap Index introduced by World Economic Forum in 2006. The Gender Inequality Index indicates a percentage loss to potential human development due to deficiencies in the dimensions included in the index (United Nations Development Programme, 2013). So, higher values of this index show lower achievement. The Global Gender Gap Index compares national gender gaps on economic, political, education and health-based criteria and provides country rankings. The Global Gender Gap Index takes the values between 0 and 1 and while the lowest score, 0, means complete inequality the highest score, 1, means complete equality (World Economic Forum, 2013: 5, 6). So, for the Global Gender Gap Index, higher values imply more equality between men and women.

After this brief explanation about the two indexes, let’s have a look at the rankings of the European Union countries and Turkey according to these indexes.

Table 1 shows the Gender Inequality Index 2012 which is calculated by the United Nations Development Programme. Unfortunately, the loss to potential human development due to gender inequalities is highest in Turkey and Turkey is the last country in terms of gender equality within the European Union countries.

According to the Global Gender Gap Index 2013 (Table 2), Turkey is again placed on the last among the European Union countries and the rank of Turkey is 120 within 136 countries.

When these two indexes are taken into account it becomes obvious that Turkish women still experience much more inequalities than the women who live in a European Union country. Without no doubt, changing present situation of Turkish women is not an easy process and in my view, women should take on more responsibility than men in order to change current circumstances in favour of themselves.


Parziale, A. (2008) “Gender Inequality and Discrimination”, Encyclopeadia of Business Ethics and Society, Editor: R. W. Kolb, UK, pp.977-981.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (2013) Gender Inequality Index 2012, http://hdr.undp.org/en/statistics/gii.

World Economic Forum (WEF) (2013) Global Gender Gap Report 2013-The Global Gender Gap Index 2013, http://www.weforum.org/reports/global-gender-gap-report-2013.



Table 1: Gender Inequality Index (2012)
Rank Country Score
1 Netherlands 0.045
2 Sweden 0.055
4 Denmark 0.057
6 Germany 0.075
7 Finland 0.075
8 Slovenia 0.08
9 France 0.083
11 Italy 0.094
12 Belgium 0.098
14 Austria 0.102
15 Spain 0.103
16 Portugal 0.114
19 Ireland 0.121
20 Czech Republic 0.122
22 Cyprus 0.134
23 Greece 0.136
24 Poland 0.14
26 Luxembourg 0.149
28 Lithuania 0.157
29 Estonia 0.158
32 Slovakia 0.171
33 Croatia 0.179
34 United Kingdom 0.205
36 Latvia 0.216
38 Bulgaria 0.219
39 Malta 0.236
43 Hungary 0.256
55 Romania 0.327
68 Turkey 0.366
Source: UNDP, Gender Inequality Index 2012, http://hdr.undp.org/en/statistics/gii



Table 2: Global Gender Gap Index (2013)
Rank Country Score
2 Finland 0.842
4 Sweden 0.813
6 Ireland 0.782
8 Denmark 0.778
11 Belgium 0.768
12 Latvia 0.761
13 Netherlands 0.761
14 Germany 0.758
18 United Kingdom 0.744
19 Austria 0.744
21 Luxembourg 0.741
28 Lithuania 0.731
30 Spain 0.727
38 Slovenia 0.716
43 Bulgaria 0.710
45 France 0.709
49 Croatia 0.707
54 Poland 0.703
59 Estonia 0.700
70 Romania 0.691
71 Italy 0.689
74 Slovak Republic 0.686
79 Cyprus 0.680
83 Czech Republic 0.677
84 Malta 0.676
87 Hungary 0.674
120 Turkey 0.608
Source: WEF, The Global Gender Gap Index 2013, http://www.weforum.org/reports/global-gender-gap-report-2013
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