Gender Social Norms Index

  • 13 Jun 2023

On June 12, 2023, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released the 2023 Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI), shedding light on the prevailing biases against women around the world.

Key Findings

  • Biased Gender Social Norms: Biased gender social norms pose a significant obstacle to achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls, as outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These norms undervalue women's capabilities and rights, limiting their choices and opportunities.
  • Global Prevalence: Gender bias is prevalent globally. The Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI) measures biases against women across four dimensions: political, educational, economic, and physical integrity. The index reveals that nearly 9 out of 10 men and women hold biases against women.
  • Approximately half of the world's population believes that men make better political leaders, and two out of five people believe that men make better business executives.
  • Global Issue: Gender biases persist across regions, income levels, and cultures, making them a global issue. These biases are evident in both lower and higher Human Development Index (HDI) countries.
  • Stagnation of Progress: The GSNI values have stagnated over the past decade, indicating limited overall progress in challenging biased gender social norms. Despite powerful campaigns for women's rights, such as Me Too, and Time's Up, little progress has been made.
  • Economic Implications: Biased gender social norms hinder women's economic empowerment. Recent evidence suggests a broken link between women's access to education and their achievements in economic empowerment.
  • Educational Disparities: Income gaps between women and men are more strongly correlated with measures of gender social norms than with educational disparities. Countries with higher bias in gender social norms tend to witness a disproportionate burden on women for domestic chores and care work.
  • Political Representation: Despite the removal of many formal barriers to women holding political office in most countries, gender gaps in political representation persist.
  • The share of women as heads of state or government has remained around 10 percent worldwide since 1995, and women hold just over a quarter of parliament seats globally.
  • Women leaders often face harsher judgment than their male counterparts, and changes in social norms can either foster greater acceptance of women's leadership or stronger backlash against it.
  • Societal Impact: Biased gender social norms not only limit women's freedoms and choices but also deprive societies of the benefits of women's leadership. Social norms that inhibit women's representation in decision-making prevent the inclusion of diverse perspectives, experiences, abilities, voices, and ideas.