A new study by a group of international researchers has revealed that there is more support for women’s rights around the world than commonly believed, especially among men.
The study, which analysed more than 60,000 survey responses from 60 countries, found that in 41 countries, more than 90% of respondents support basic rights for women, such as the right to work outside the home, to vote, and to own property. In 37 of the 60 countries, the majority of men and women also support policies for hiring women in leadership positions.
However, the study also found that there is a widespread underestimation of the support for women’s rights, particularly regarding men’s support. This means that many people think that their views are more progressive than those of their peers, when in fact they are not.
For example, in Saudi Arabia, where women’s rights are severely restricted by law and culture, the study found that “the vast majority of men privately support women working outside the home, but underestimate the extent to which others share this view.”
The researchers suggest that these misperceptions of gender norms are additional obstacles to advancing gender equality, and correcting them could lead to a significant increase in women’s involvement in the labour market.
They also propose several possible explanations for why these misperceptions exist, such as outdated views, social pressure, media bias, and lack of information.
The study was conducted by the NHH Norwegian School of Economics along with colleagues from the University of Chicago, Stanford University and the University of Zurich. It was published on May 23 in the journal Science Advances.
The study comes at a time when gender equality is under threat from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately affected women’s health, income, and security. According to a report by McKinsey & Company, women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable to this crisis than men’s jobs. Women make up 39% of global employment but account for 54% of overall job losses.
The report also warns that if no action is taken to counter these effects, global GDP growth could be $1 trillion lower in 2030 than it would be if women’s unemployment rate were to track that of men’s in each sector. On the other hand, if steps are taken to advance gender equality in work and society, global GDP could increase by $13 trillion by 2030.
As the world marks International Women’s Day on March 8, many activists and organizations are calling for urgent action to protect and promote women’s rights in the face of the pandemic and beyond.
Amnesty International states that “women’s rights are human rights – but not all women have the same rights” and urges governments to ensure that women have access to essential services and enablers of economic opportunity like digital and financial inclusion, legal protection and political voice, and physical security and autonomy.
- How to close the gender gap in political representation: Lessons from around the world | World Economic Forum | May 19, 2023
- Women’s rights are human rights – but not all women have the same rights | The Conversation | May 22, 2023
- The pandemic has widened the gender gap. Here’s how we can close it | CNN | May 23, 2023