In Brief

‘Shocking’ study finds 90% of people worldwide biased against women

New UN index reveals extent of ‘global backlash’ against gender equality

Nine out of ten people of both sexes are biased against women, according to a newly published UN report.

An analysis of data from 75 countries worldwide for the new gender social norm index found that 91% of men and 86% of women hold at least one bias against women in relation to politics, economics, education, violence or reproductive rights.

The depressing results highlight the extent of the “global backlash towards gender equality”, says The Guardian.

The research, by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), “found that around half of the world’s population feel that men make better political leaders, while over 40% think men make better business executives and have more right to a job when work availability is limited”, reports German newspaper Deutsche Welle.

And almost 30% of people think it’s acceptable for a man to beat his wife. 

Pedro Conceicao, director of the UNDP’s human development report office, described the findings as “shocking”.

He said: “What our report shows is a pattern that repeats itself again and again. Big progress in more basic areas of participation and empowerment. But when we get to more empowering areas, we seem to be hitting a wall.”

Of all the countries studied, a majority of people held no bias towards women in only six: Andorra, Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden.

Earlier this year, a separate study found that the UK is still “generations away” from equality in top jobs, with women holding just one in 20 of the chief executive roles at FTSE 100 firms.

Last summer, the first index to measure progress against internationally agreed targets found that no country was on track to achieve gender equality by the UN’s deadline of 2030.

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