New study from the Unstereotype Alliance finds that increased equality for women is essential to a country’s success

Ten countries surveyed in partnership with Kantar demonstrate that harmful gender-based stereotypes and attitudes act as barriers to a more fair and balanced society


New York, 17 June 2020 – The Unstereotype Alliance, an industry-led initiative convened by UN Women to end harmful stereotypes perpetuated through advertising, today debuted the full findings of the Gender Equality Attitudes (GEA) Study. In a 10-country wide survey, the GEA findings reveal the existence and magnitude of stereotypical attitudes and gender bias is ever-present.

Kantar, the world’s leading data, insights and consulting company, and UN Women collaborated to develop a perceptions-based study that in its pilot phase, surveyed over 1,000 men and women in ten countries over a three-month period: including Colombia, India, Japan, Kenya, Nigeria, Philippines, Sweden, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and the United States of America. The survey explored gender attitudes across broad topics such as education, work, media representation, marriage and family life, safety and violence, and control over personal decisions.

Overall, the majority of respondents agree gender equality is a key condition to their country’s future success and essential to achieving a more fair and balanced society. Yet the significant gender-based stereotypes and attitudes expressed by respondents across countries and topics contradict this. The GEA study revealed huge differences between countries and highlighted local ambivalence towards the drivers of equality.

Findings include:

  • Overall, only 53 per cent of respondents think most women feel moderately safe to very safe in their home
  • 1 in 4 men still believe there are circumstances where it is acceptable to hit a spouse
  • 2 in 3 male respondents think women should be paid the same as men for doing the same job
  • Despite the disparity seen between countries and topics, there is an overwhelming consensus that gender equality is important for progress, with 91 per cent of those surveyed believing that more respect for women’s rights is important to a country’s future success.
  • 77 per cent of respondents in USA think women have control over their lives compared to 34 per cent in Kenya
  • 60 per cent of respondents in the Philippines think it is easy for a woman to run for office versus 16 per cent in Colombia

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women said, “Discriminatory social norms underpin the persistence of human rights violations. Women are paying a high price for that. Those norms systematically deny women’s equal access to political participation, employment, education and justice, and expose women and girls to violence. The Gender Equality Attitudes Study shows that most people see gender equality as important, but there is clearly more work to do to connect it to the reality of women's rights.”

Lynnette Cooke, Global CEO of the Health Division at Kantar said, “The beauty of this study is its design—we have a validated survey research methodology that we worked on closely with UN Women, and a well-designed survey instrument. For the first time in years, we have current data that depict how men and women, of all ages, feel toward one another’s roles and responsibilities, both inside and outside of the home. We need to understand where women are seen as equals, and where they are not, and why. This study provides the evidence to help guide the way on how to close the gaps.”

By interrogating attitudes at a national level, the study aims to illuminate country nuances, and to provide an evidence-based tool for movements to change attitudes and behaviours around gender equality. The findings from this study can inform policymakers, advertisers and media owners, and civil society organizations and more on the prevalence of discriminatory attitudes and stereotypes that subordinate women’s status in society.

The study also provides a benchmark to measure the progress of attitudes towards gender equality over time. The next wave of research is currently taking place and includes an additional ten countries to broaden the global perspective - Austria, Brazil, Denmark, France, Mexico, Poland, Senegal, Spain, South Africa, and Vietnam. Results will be available later in 2020.