According to a new UN survey, nearly nine out of ten people have “fundamental biases” against women, a frightening statistic that demonstrates the erosion of women’s rights in many parts of the world.
According to the statistic, half of people worldwide still believe men make better political leaders than women; more than 40% believe men make better business executives than women; and 25% believe it is acceptable for a man to beat his wife, according to a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report released Monday, June 12.
The report’s author says that prejudiced gender social norms are a major impediment to attaining gender equality, and that society’s undervaluation of women’s capabilities and rights limits women’s choices and chances.
The authors of the research said that these biases were evident across geographies, income levels, levels of development, and cultures, and that UNDP’s composite measure of gender disparity in empowerment, known as the global Gender disparity Index (GII), has been constant since 2019.
The report goes on to state that gender equality will most likely not be achieved by 2030, noting that the report reflects views from 80 countries and territories and covers 85% of the global population.
These biases manifest in numerous ways, such as in an underrepresentation of women in leadership. In the labor market, women occupy less than a third of managerial positions.
Also in politics, the percentage of women as heads of state or heads of government has remained around 10% since 1995, the report finds.
In contrast, in 59 countries women are now more highly educated than men, but even in those countries the average gender income gap remains 39% in favor of men.
“Social norms that impair women’s rights are also detrimental to society more broadly, dampening the expansion of human development. In fact, lack of progress on gender social norms is unfolding against a human development crisis: the global Human Development Index (HDI) declined in 2020 for the first time on record—and again the following year,” Pedro Conceição, head of UNDP’s Human Development Report Office, said in a statement.
“Everyone stands to gain from ensuring freedom and agency for women,” he added.
But the UN says governments have a role to play to reduce gender inequality.
“An important place to start is recognizing the economic value of unpaid care work. This can be a very effective way of challenging gender norms around how care work is viewed,” said Raquel Lagunas, director of UNDP’s Gender Team.
“In countries with the highest levels of gender biases against women, it is estimated that women spend over six times as much time as men on unpaid care work,” Lagunas added.