How to Reduce Gender Inequality

gender inequality

Gender inequality is a human rights issue that affects the health, wellbeing and economic prosperity of everyone. It has been a global challenge for decades, and progress continues to be made – but at a rate that is too slow for the girls and women who need it most. We need to take bold action to accelerate and scale up this work if we are to ensure that all girls can reach their full potential.

Efforts to tackle gender inequality often focus on changing individual men and women’s behaviours. For example, initiatives that aim to close gaps in STEM fields typically focus on encouraging more women to pursue these careers by boosting their interest and motivation, through campaigns such as the heavily criticized “Science: It’s a Girl Thing”. Initiatives to increase the number of women in parliament or senior leadership positions similarly target individual men and women with targeted campaigns (McKinnon, 2022).

While this approach may have some limited success in improving outcomes for a small minority of individuals, it fails to tackle the root causes of these gaps and does not provide long-term sustainable solutions. This is because the root cause of inequality is deeply ingrained in social norms, attitudes and structures. This can be addressed only by tackling these underlying systems and power relations, which requires political will and substantial investment.

There is no doubt that reducing gender inequality will benefit society as a whole. In addition to directly improving the lives of women and girls, it will bring a wide range of macroeconomic benefits: stronger economic growth and financial stability, increased jobs and less income inequality (Kochhar and others, 2017; Kozlowski and Sahay, 2018).

In addition, lower gender inequality reduces social unrest, violence and conflict, which in turn leads to stronger economies and greater global security. This is why it is so important to fully implement the gender equality agenda and promote policies that support women’s economic empowerment, education, and health – including ending harmful traditional practices and investing in family planning and reproductive healthcare.

In order to achieve gender equality and end discriminatory laws and cultural attitudes that restrict women’s autonomy, the world must fully commit to implementing all of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This includes goal five, which states that “progress towards achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls should be considered a cross-cutting objective and a core element of national policy, strategies and budgets”. To achieve this, political leadership and investments are required along with comprehensive policies to dismantle the barriers. Click on the visualization above to view a timeline of available data from OECD countries for gender equality in a variety of areas. You can add more observations by clicking the option “add country”. The latest data from OECD (2018) shows that on average, it will take another 131 years for the pay gap between men and women to close globally. This is unacceptable and needs to be tackled urgently.