Gender Equality A Distant Dream: Study Finds 90% Of Men & Women Are Biased Against Women

Gender Equality A Distant Dream: Study Finds 90% Of Men & Women Are Biased Against Women

The year is 2020. Women seem to be shattering glass ceilings all over the world--from being the faces of dissent to leading entire countries. But does that mean biases against women are ending?

Far from it, a recent study conducted by the United Nations, published last week, has a different story to tell. The report looks at gender inequality and attitudes towards women around the world. In fact, it put a staggering number to the bias: nearly 90% of everyone—both men AND women—are prejudiced against women. This means that despite the push for gender equality across the globe, the truth is that almost all of us hold these biases.

The study, which was published as part of the Gender Social Norms Index, found that only 14% of women and 10% of men are not biased against women. It also noted that gender inequality tended to be higher in countries that had stronger biases against women.

The most disturbing finding of the study, though, was that while we may believe that the situation of women all over the world is gradually improving when it is, in fact, getting worse. According to the index, the percentage of men with some bias against women grew from 89.4% between 2004 and 2009 to 89.9% between 2010 and 2014. Women with some bias against women also increased, the study found, rising from 83.4% to 84.6% in the same period.

Another eye-opening finding was that women's own bias against their own gender has gotten worse, among people who hold moderate to intense gender biases. The percentage of women holding such prejudices in this category grew from 56.6% to 59.7% between 2004-2009 and 2010-2014. The men, in the same category, grew from 70% to 70.8% in the same period.

Pedro Conceição, head of United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Report Office, said the findings reveal how far the world is from closing the gender equality gap. "We have come a long way in recent decades to ensure that women have the same access to life's basic needs as men. We have reached parity in primary school enrollment and reduced maternal mortality by 45 percent since the year 1990," he said in a statement.

"But gender gaps are still all too obvious in other areas, particularly those that challenge power relations and are most influential in actually achieving true equality. Today, the fight about gender equality is a story of bias and prejudices," he added.

Unsurprisingly, India hasn't done too well on this Index. The percentage of prejudice against women in India saw the second-largest growth when compared to other countries. And women's own biases towards other women have gotten worse. This finding sheds important light on internalised misogyny in the country, patriarchy is so deeply rooted in our society that women are upholding and propagating these biases against women more than men themselves.

The findings of this study are certainly bleak, but it's only reiterating the fact that all efforts towards gender equality in India (and the world) are NOT enough. The government needs to dedicate more resources and formulate policies towards bridging this ever-growing gender gap. 

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