Women’s Rights Around the World
Almost every woman and girl on the planet is entitled to certain basic human rights. These include the right to live a life free of gender-based violence, including sexual violence and female genital mutilation; to have children and control whether or when they do; to work and earn an income; to choose their spouses and family members; and to vote and participate in political decisions that affect them. Yet, for women everywhere, these fundamental rights are often denied due to the lingering effects of centuries of discrimination and abuse, as well as harmful patriarchal traditions such as child marriage, honor killings, and dowry deaths.
As a result, women around the world are still living in conditions that are incredibly inequitable, and the gap between men’s and women’s lives continues to widen. But there are signs of hope. Around the world, majorities in many countries now say that their country has made progress over the past decade in giving women equal rights with men.
When asked what they think the biggest obstacle is to achieving equal rights for women, Americans overwhelmingly cite sexual harassment as the main problem. A close second is women not having the same legal rights as men, followed by different societal expectations for men and women (69% and 64%, respectively). A smaller share cite other problems, such as having a lack of women in positions of power (33%), having to work harder than men (29%), or having family responsibilities (27%) as major obstacles to equal rights for women.
There are a few differences between Democrats and Republicans on these issues, with Democrats being more likely to see the U.S. as having not gone far enough on equal rights for women than Republicans. However, both groups say that there has been progress over the past decade and that it is possible for men and women to have equal rights in the future.
In fact, the majority of people in 34 countries surveyed believe that it is likely that men and women will eventually have the same rights in their country. A median of 75% in these countries say that it is possible, and about 5% volunteer that they have already achieved equality between the genders.
When asked to describe what they think a society that has equal rights for women would look like, most mention the workplace: 45% specifically say that this means equal pay, and 19% mention no gender-based discrimination in hiring or promotion. Another 7% say that it also includes more family-friendly policies, such as paternity and maternity leave. This is a crucial area for improvement, as research shows that when women are able to achieve these goals they have better outcomes for themselves and their families. This is not only good for the individual, but it also benefits societies and economies at large. It is for this reason that we need to continue working towards a world where all women and girls have these opportunities.