A new UN report found that almost nine out of ten people have 'fundamental prejudices' against women. The report also decried a "decade of stagnation" which has led to the dismantling women's rights around the world.
The latest World Values Survey data revealed that half of the world's population still believes men are better leaders in politics than women. More than 40% also believe that men are better executives.
The authors of the report warn that gender-biased social norms can be a major obstacle to gender equality. They also add that undervaluing women's rights and capabilities in society limits women's options and opportunities.
The authors of the report noted that these biases are seen across cultures, regions, levels of income and development. They also pointed out that UNDP’s composite measure for gender inequality in empowerment (GII) has remained static since 2019.
The report, which represents the views of 80 countries and territory and covers 85% the world's population, states that this means the world has not reached gender equality by 2030.
This bias manifests in many ways, including the underrepresentation women in leadership. Women occupy less that a third in managerial positions on the labor market. The picture is even worse at the top of the leadership pyramid: the percentage of women who are heads of state and heads of government remains around 10%.
This gap is not a reflection of education levels. In 59 countries, where women have a higher level of education than men, there is still a 39% gender gap in income.
The report states that the global backlash against women’s rights, as well as the wide-ranging consequences of the Covid-19 epidemic have made the situation worse.
Social norms that undermine women's rights also harm society as a whole, reducing the growth of human development. The lack of progress in gender social norms has led to a crisis in human development: the Human Development Index (HDI), the world's most important indicator of economic growth, fell in 2020, for the first recorded time, and again the next year.
He added that 'everyone benefits from the freedom and agency of women'.
Change is still possible. The authors of the report give examples where parental leave policies have changed perceptions about caring responsibilities and labor market reforms have led to a shift in beliefs surrounding women in the workplace.
The authors point out that governments play a key role in changing gender social norms.
This can be a very effective way to challenge gender norms around how care work is viewed. This can be an effective way to challenge gender norms about how care work should be viewed.
In countries where there is the greatest level of gender discrimination against women, women are estimated to spend six times more time on unpaid work than men, Lagunas said.
Three centuries of equality
In March, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that progress toward gender equality was 'vanishing in front of our eyes'. UN Women, a UN organization dedicated exclusively to gender equality, also stated that gender equality would be 300 years away.
Guterres said that the hope for gender equality is 'getting further away' because of high maternal mortality rates, girls forced into early marriages, and girls kidnapped or assaulted simply for going to school.
Guterres stated that 'women's and girls' rights are being violated, abused and threatened around the globe. He named Afghanistan as one of these countries, where he claimed 'women have been wiped out from public life.
Guterres said, 'in many areas, women's reproductive and sexual rights are being rolled-back', but he did not specify where.
The Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe v. Wade in June last year, allowing individual states to decide whether to allow abortions. In Poland, the ban on abortions based on fetal defects was implemented in 2010. This effectively ended almost all abortions.
Guterres called on a collective and urgent action to achieve gender equality. This included increasing education, income, and employment opportunities for women and young girls, particularly in developing countries in the Global South. He also encouraged the participation of girls and women in science and technology.
Guterres stated that centuries of patriarchy and discrimination, as well as harmful stereotypes, have contributed to a large gender gap in the fields of science and technology. Let's be clear, global frameworks do not work for women and girls around the world. They must change.