How to Close the Gaps on Gender Inequality

The world is making progress on gender inequality, but the gaps remain large and are not closing fast enough. The United Nations and many other organizations have made advancing gender equality one of their main goals, but political leadership, investments and comprehensive policy reforms are needed to dismantle the systemic barriers to women’s economic opportunities.

Gender inequality varies across countries, but it is often deeply rooted in a country’s culture and social norms. It can show up in obvious ways like unequal pay, disparities in promotions and incidents of sexual harassment, but it also manifests in less apparent ways, including women’s greater propensity for burnout and limited access to quality healthcare. In addition, discriminatory social norms can prevent girls from going to school, impede women’s ability to participate in religious life and limit their freedom of movement, all of which have negative effects on the economy.

Changing these factors is difficult, but not impossible. Government policies and their designs matter, and studies have shown that more equitable laws and regulations can accelerate the decline of gender gaps from economic development and technological advances (Kochhar and others, 2017; Sahay and others, 2015).

But this is not the only solution, as the remaining gender gaps tend to be more implicit and subtle — and they may be harder to address, because they are less visible to the public; they can be hard to separate out preference/comparative advantage versus bias/cultural barriers; and they usually require changing people’s mindset, which is typically more challenging.

This is why it’s critical to focus on addressing all dimensions of gender inequality – not just those that are clearly visible – and to tackle them simultaneously. For example, tackling gender imbalances in field of study at the same time as addressing gender gaps in tertiary enrollment can help eliminate these gaps more quickly than doing them sequentially.

Another issue is that it can be easy to take a “piece-meal” approach and only address some aspects of inequality at a time, especially as progress is made in some areas. This can result in a “sticky floor” effect, where the pace of change slows down as people become comfortable with certain levels of inequality or even start to question whether progress is being made.

Finally, it is important to remember demo slot that advancing gender equality brings macroeconomic benefits for everyone. Lowering gender inequality can foster better household decision-making, improve business and institution performance, strengthen economic growth and financial stability, create more jobs, and lead to lower income inequality (Kochhar and others, 2017; Kothari and Sahay, 2018; Cihak and Sahay, 2020). This is why it’s vital to keep working to achieve a more equal world for both men and women, no matter what country you live in.