January 28, 2021 11:54:50 pm
A first-of-its-kind international survey finds that the global public overwhelmingly supports gender equality, and a resounding majority is ready for their governments and business leaders to take action to bridge the gender divide.
At the same time, girls and women around the world are suffering the worst impacts of the Covid-19 crisis that has disproportionately affected their mental and physical health, as well as their economic prospects.
The vast majority of the respondents — 80% on average across the 17 surveyed countries — said gender equality is a priority to them personally, and 65% said their government should do more to promote gender equality in their country.
The survey was carried out through an online poll in 17 countries (Australia, Argentina, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, China, South Africa, Switzerland, Tunisia, and the United States) by polling institute Deltapoll in primary local languages with 1,000 respondents in each country.
The global public perception survey findings were released in a new report by Women Deliver, a global advocate that champions gender equality and health and rights of girls and women, and Focus 2030 (a Paris-based nonprofit organization supporting international solidarity) on Thursday at an online function. The results came two months before the Generation Equality Forum, a civil society-centered global gathering for gender equality convened by the UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France.
The forum will galvanise political action and secure financial commitments for the period of 2021-2026 on measures to advance women’s rights and opportunities around the world. Sixty-one percent of respondents urged their governments to use the forum as an opportunity to increase funding for gender equality initiatives.
“2021 promises to be a milestone year for accelerating global progress on gender equality. The Generation Equality Forum will call on governments, corporation, civil society and people of all ages and backgrounds around the world to step up with bold commitments to make gender equality a reality,” said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
Senior Manager, Policy and Advocacy at Women Deliver, Divya Mathew said, “This survey shows us where the world has fallen short, but it also delivers the encouraging news that the vast majority of women and men around the world expect their leaders to take action to advance gender equality.”
Fielded in July and August of 2020, the survey offers a comprehensive picture of public experience and perception across six major gender equality issues, in addition to insights on how the pandemic had affected respondents’ lives, livelihoods and emotional health. It also asked participants about their personal experiences with gender discrimination, their attitudes about sexist practices and their beliefs about the causes of gender discrimination.
Key findings on these questions include the global public supports the need for women to play a role in all aspects of the pandemic response, with 82% of survey respondents on average saying they believe women should be involved in the response at all levels. However, facts bear witness to another situation: although women make up 70% of frontline workers, they currently make up only 24% of the Covid-19 response committees.
To address these realities, a gender lens must be applied to Covid-19 response and recovery plans. The pandemic has had a significant impact on women (aged 18-44), who are more likely to report both increased household burdens and greater emotional stress. In 13 of the 17 countries surveyed, women report experiencing more emotional stress and mental health challenges compared to men during the pandemic.
Young people, especially young women, have the highest expectations of their governments to advance gender equality. Three in four young women (aged 18 to 24), across all 17 countries, call on their government to increase funding for equality in their country on the occasion of the Gender Equality Forum, compared to two in three respondents on average.
57% of women on an average reported experiencing some form of gender-based discrimination in their lifetimes, with the highest rates of discrimination reported in middle-income countries like Kenya (83%), India (81%) and South Africa (72%).
Overall, the top priority to improve gender equality is ending gender-based violence, including online harassment, sexual assault, forced and child marriage and female genital mutilation. This was selected as first choice by 32% of respondents on average across the 17 countries.
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