Gender equality was one of the major achievements of socialist regimes in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA). Though transition has taken its toll on this legacy in some countries, gender gaps in education and labor markets in low and middle income countries of the region are comparable to those seen in high income OECD countries.
But these gaps have not been completely eliminated. They remain key constraints to the region’s growth and income prospects, as well as to better outcomes for men and women in economic welfare and social justice.
ECA does suffer from some common gender problems in human capital endowments and economic opportunities. There are “islands” of persistent high gender inequality in human development and labor market indicators, such as in Turkey and among selected minority groups (e.g., Roma). Also, there are concerns regarding lagging male performance in the area of tertiary enrollment rates throughout most of the region and male life expectancy in some Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries.
The ECA region is characterized by a high degree of heterogeneity among countries in gender outcomes. Despite such diversity, countries in the region face some common gender challenges. Due to the aging of the population in ECA, the less apparent (or “second generation”) gender inequality problems will soon rapidly come to the forefront.