Half of people worldwide still believe men make better political leaders than women, and more than 40 percent believe men make better business executives than women.
A staggering 25 percent of people believe it is justified for a man to beat his wife, according to the new GSNI report launched by the United Nations Development Programe (UNDP), reflecting the latest data from the World Values Survey.
The report argues that these biases drive hurdles faced by women, manifested in a dismantling of women’s rights in many parts of the world with movements against gender equality gaining traction and, in some countries, a surge of human rights violations. Biases are also reflected in the severe underrepresentation of women in leadership.
On average, the share of women as heads of state or heads of government has remained around 10 percent since 1995 and in the labor market women occupy less than a third of managerial positions.
The report also sheds light on a broken link between women’s progress in education and economic empowerment. Women are more skilled and educated than ever before, yet even in the 59 countries where women are now more educated than men, the average gender income gap remains a staggering 39 percent 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. Everyone stands to gain from ensuring freedom and agency for women,” said Pedro Conceição, head of UNDP’s Human Development Report Office.
The report emphasizes that governments have a crucial role in shifting gender social norms. For instance, parental leave policies have changed perceptions around care work responsibilities, and labor market reforms led to a change in beliefs around the employment of women.
“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. 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,” said Raquel Lagunas, Director of UNDP’s Gender Team.