Pakistan tops in holding biases against women: UN Report

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Pakistan tops a list of countries of people holding prejudiced views against women, a United Nations report has said.

According to the findings of the Gender Social Norms Index report, released recently by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the percentage of those holding at least one sexist bias was the most in Pakistan, at 99.81%. Qatar and Nigeria followed with 99.73%.

The index measured how social beliefs act as a hindrance to gender equality in areas like politics, work and education, and the study surveyed 75 countries, or around 80% of the world’s population.

Last Sunday, thousands of Pakistani women took to the streets in the largest-ever women’s rights demonstrations in the country. The marchers, who were commemorating the International Women’s Day, demanded gender equality, minimum wages for the working class and bodily rights, as they raised slogans against sexual harassment and gender-based violence.

A manifesto released by “Aurat March” (women’s march) organisers in Pakistan demanded economic and environmental justice, reproductive rights and better access to public spaces for women. Additionally, the manifesto sought an end to enforced disappearances and militarisation, as well as protection of religious minorities in the country.

The World Economic Forum has ranked Pakistan 151 out of 153 countries in its 2020 Global Gender Gap Index Report.

According to the UNDP report, Andorra had the least population with sexist beliefs, at 27.01%, followed by Sweden and the Netherlands with 30.01% and 39.75%, respectively.

France, Britain and the United States had scores of 56%, 54.6% and 57.31%, respectively, of people holding at least one bias.

The research does not present a bright picture, as 90% of the people studied worldwide have at least one prejudice against women.

The prejudiced views that were asked in the study were: that men are better politicians and business leaders than women; that going to university is more important for men than women; and that men should get preferential treatment in competitive job markets.

The numbers show “new clues to the invisible barriers women face in achieving equality” despite “decades of progress”, the UNDP said in a statement released along with the report. “The work that has been so effective in ensuring an end to gaps in health or education must now evolve to address something far more challenging: a deeply ingrained bias — among both men and women — against genuine equality,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said.

The agency called on governments and institutions to change discriminatory beliefs and practices through education. Beyond inequalities in education, health and the economy, the statement also called out one of the most chilling findings of the report — 28% of people believed it was okay for a man to beat his wife.

– The Economic Time