Inequality is an obstacle billions of women around the globe navigate at their peril every single day of their lives. Now, a new United Nations study sheds light on why at this stage of human civilisation, not a single country on the planet has yet achieved gender equity.
Turns out some 90 percent of people – a staggering nine out of 10 – are prejudiced against women in some way, according to the UN Development Programme (UNDP)’s Gender Norms Index.
Gathering data from 75 countries, the analysis covers 80 percent of the global population and measures how social beliefs obstruct gender equity in areas like politics, work, and education, to the detriment of all of society.
Despite decades of progress in advancing women’s equality in many nations, the findings expose cultural attitudes that continue to act as stealth barriers to women achieving an equal footing with men.
More than half of men and women surveyed for example think men make better political leaders than women. Some 40 percent say men are better at business and more deserving of a job when work is scarce. More than a quarter – again men and women surveyed – think it is justified for a man to beat his wife.
On Sunday, International Women’s Day commemorates the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action, a landmark agreement promoting women’s rights, adopted by world leaders in China in 1995.
Since Beijing, progress has been achieved – there has been a substantial drop in maternal mortality rates and an increase in girls enrolled in primary schools.
But UNDP’s findings indicate there is significant social pushback, with negative attitudes towards gender equality actually growing in 31 countries.