Ahead of International Women's Day, Research Now, commissioned by Western Union, has conducted an investigation into how women around the world view gender inequality and the lifespan of global sexism.
The research surveyed 5,000 women across five countries (United Kingdom, United States, India, China and Brazil) who span all generations (millennials, Gen X, baby boomers and senior groups). It found that the majority of women around the world are not optimistic about gender equality being reached in the near future due to social and political ideologies and restrictions.
88 percent of British women and two thirds of women surveyed internationally view gender inequality as an issue that has longevity; a problem that is unlikely to be a resolved in five years' time. Whereas 25 percent of British women think gender equality actually impossible entirely.
These disturbing statistics have come to light in time for International Women’s Day (March 8th 2017), where the social and political accomplishments of women worldwide are recognised and celebrated, and awareness of gender inequality is raised. According to the survey, 43 percent want the accomplishments of women to be more prominent in textbooks and taught more vigorously in schools.
Women surveyed (including 77 percent of British women) were united in their belief that education is the key to achieving gender equality. However, right now there are an estimated 130 million young girls who are denied an education. Without education, girls cannot access resources that can help them unlock their potential and therefore cannot positively alter the treatment of and the perception of women. Because of this, the world is not only starved of the benefit of their potential, but a large proportion of females are not being heard and their voices are supressed. How can gender equality be achieved when, even in poverty, women are regarded ‘lesser’ than men in a multitude of ways?
Hikmet Ersek, President and CEO of Western Union, said: ‘These results are sobering, and show that all of us – as business leaders, global citizens, and parents – have a long way to go to achieve gender equality.
‘Education is one of the most important investments we can make. It turns girls into leaders. It turns global citizens into economic drivers, who then continue to invest in education. It breaks down barriers to education and empowers a bolder generation of young women to achieve their true potential.’
Following this, another key finding in the research states that 68 percent of women say society expects women to take on responsibilities that it does not expect men to, and 72 percent say they believe that men and boys see themselves as superior to women. This was exemplified profoundly (and shockingly) in parliament recently, when a Polish MEP explicitly said he thinks women should earn less than men because ‘they are weaker, they are smaller, they are less intelligent,’ only for female Spanish MEP Iratxe Garcia Perez to incredulously bite back at his warped, misogynistic views.
'I know it hurts you,' Perez said. 'I know it hurts and worries you that today women can sit in this house and represent European citizens with the same rights as you. I am here to defend European women against men like you.'
Today, in 2017, equality in the work place has still not yet been achieved, with the gender pay gap at an average of 18 percent. Nearly two thirds of women (67 percent) see gender equality as being as simple as gaining equality and inclusivity in the work place.
With the attitude towards reaching gender equality so cynical from women themselves, the work that must be done to not only alter action but alter perception is tenfold. The hardest part isn’t making the adjustments, it’s changing the way people perceive women in the first place.
To honour International Women’s Day, Western Union wants women all over the world to give inspiration and support to one another. People are invited to empower women by sharing the best and boldest advice they’ve ever been given - whether it's a piece of motherly advice, or a famous inspiring quote - and share it with the hashtag #BeBoldForChange and #TheRaceIsOn.