UN Women reveals regression in attitudes towards gender roles during pandemic in new study

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While all 20 countries studied have seen improvements, the sobering results show that discriminatory social norms continue to stifle progress. Overall, most respondents agree that gender equality in all areas is essential to the success of their country (91%), but attitudes towards domestic violence have receded and young men have now some of the most regressive attitudes towards the genre. Survey data also reflected the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the lives of women and girls in perceptions of gender roles, reinforcing trends in unpaid care responsibilities, gender pay gaps and occupational segregation identified in other UN Women research.

Detailed country breakdowns as well as additional context and perspective can be found in the full report available here. Some key findings include:

  • COVID-19 has pushed back attitudes towards domestic violence. 19% of all respondents think there are acceptable circumstances for someone to hit their spouse or partner – an increase of 2 percentage points from 2018, including in India, Sweden and the US.
  • Despite progress, women continue to face multiple barriers to political leadership and decision-making. 82% of respondents agree that having more opportunities for women in politics is important to the success of their country, an increase of 2 percentage points since 2018. However, 63% of respondents agree that It’s easy for men to run for office and only 38%% agree it’s easy for women to do the same.
  • Dominant attitudes hinder women’s progress in business and leadership positions. While 9 in 10 respondents agree that equal pay for equal work is important to the future success of their country, 52% of men aged 16-19 and 54% of men aged 20-34 agree that ” women should work less and spend more time caring for their families. 44% of all respondents agree that it is easy for women to be hired as skilled workers, while 57% think the same is true for men – a gender gap of 13 percentage points.
  • In times of hardship, the gender-related attitudes and beliefs that drive people’s decisions can lead to the undoing of hard-won gains in gender equality. A surprising 25% of respondents agree that “in times of food shortage, priority should be given to men”, and 31% of respondents agree that “when jobs are scarce, men should have more right to a job than women”. women “.
  • The media continues to portray traditional gender roles, especially male roles. Respondents believe the media portrays women and men in traditional roles and this perception has increased significantly since 2018. 68% of respondents believe the media portrays women in traditional female roles, such as wives, mothers or carers (+14 percentage points since 2018) and 72% of respondents think the media portrays men in conventional male roles, including as breadwinners, leaders or businessmen (+20 percentage points since 2018).

Sima Bahous, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, said: “The study’s findings reiterate the urgency of addressing social norms that hold women and girls back. Positive attitudes towards opportunities for women in political leadership are welcome and much needed. However, the rise in acceptance of domestic violence, held especially by young men, is deeply disturbing and a wake-up call for action. These results show exactly why social norms are at the heart of our strategic plan for gender equality”.

Aline Santos, Chief Brand Officer & Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Unilever, said: “For those of us who work in ED&I, we know the work is never done, and the results of the study reflect that. . With more than half of ads now classified as progressive and marketers confident in creating non-stereotypical ads, we’re still halfway there. The main ingredient of progress is optimism – we must continue to create publicity that advances humanity and is a force for positive change”.

Caroline Frankum, CEO of Kantar’s Profiles Division, said, “For more than 50% of the world’s population, it is no longer enough to say the arc of justice is long, it bends toward justice. Steps must be taken in all societies today to provide a more equal world for women and girls. Our partnership with UN Women is one of our most important partnerships precisely because by measuring the gender gap, we inform the equality debate at the most crucial time. COVID-19 has set back gender equality and societal attitudes towards domestic violence. Women must understand and claim their rights, and follow the inspiring example of young women under 20 who are not afraid to voice their demands. Men of all ages need to discover the importance of the covenant. Politicians must better protect and promote the rights of women and girls, and hold accountable those who seek to hold us back.”

Across the themes of the study, attitudes towards gender equality vary widely across the 20 countries. The results aim to provide an evidence-based tool for decision makers by highlighting locally nuanced beliefs and perceptions. The data can be leveraged by policy makers, media advertisers and owners, civil society organizations and many others in their efforts to effectively tackle harmful gender stereotypes and the threats they pose to progress in their societies.

About Research

Kantar, the global leader in data, insights and consulting, conducted the 2020 perceptions-based study, surveying more than 20,000 men and women in twenty countries, including Colombia, India, Japan, Kenya, Nigeria, Philippines, Sweden, Turkey, United Arab Emirates. Emirates and the United States – all included in the first report – with the addition of Austria, Brazil, Denmark, France, Mexico, Poland, Senegal, South Africa, from Spain and Vietnam.

Additionally, during the 2022 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the Unstereotype Alliance hosted a session on the main stage at Palais I, It’s Not the Time to Pat Ourselves on the Back, featuring model and activist Munroe Bergdorf and the TV presenter, diversity expert and award-winning author. , June Sarpong. Audiences were challenged to reflect on their efforts towards diversity, equity and inclusion and to create non-stereotypical content. Positive stories of impact were contrasted with negative public commentary and individual stories of adversity to inspire action. Transgender icon Munroe Bergdorf then gave a moving closing speech, sharing her story to highlight the importance of positive representation. The session took place on Tuesday June 21 from 4:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. at the Debussy Theater, Palais I.

About Unstereotype Alliance

The Unstereotype Alliance seeks to eradicate harmful stereotypes from advertising and media to help create a more equal world. Convened by UN Women, the Alliance acts collectively to empower people in all their diversity (including gender, race, class, age, ability, ethnicity, religion and sexuality) using the advertising as a force for good to bring about positive change around the world. world. Since the formation of the Unstereotype Alliance in 2017, national chapters have been launched in 12 countries across five continents to challenge culturally nuanced stereotypes on the ground (https://www.unstereotypealliance.org).

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