(or even region to region) according to government structure, heritage and culture, andreligion. For instance, democracy is likely to create more favourable conditions for genderequality (Beer, 2009). Demographic can also diverge gender equality levels within countries;there is more acceptance of gender inequality in poorer demographics (Global Gender GapIndex, 2010), so poorer women are less likely to realise their comparative situation or revoltagainst it. The distinct variations in the type, magnitude and relative consequences of genderinequality means it has no homogeneous policy solution.
A Universal Problem
It is naive and unjust to dismiss gender inequality as a problem confined to LDCs. The truthis far from this. Statistics show that the estimated earnings of women across the HumanDevelopment Index (HDI) scale are systematically lower than those of men (Figure 1). The
World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index incorporates political empowerment,
economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, and health and survival intoits measurement of gender inequality (Horowitz and Wike, 2010). Figure 2 depicts thecorrelation between these indices and HDI rankings. The result supports the hypothesis thatgender equality, in its full form, exists at all levels of development.Japan, for example, ranks tenth on the HDI scale, but only 94
on the Gender Gap Indexscale. Whereas Mozambique ranks 175
on the HDI scale, yet forges ahead with a ranking of 22 on the Gender Gap Index scale. In addition to this statistical evidence, opinion studiesprovide the same result. According to a Pew Global Attitudes Survey, wealthy nations, morethan poorer nations, claim men receive more job opportunities than equally qualified womenand enjoy a better life generally in their countries (Horowitz and Wike, 2010). Even in the topranking Nordic countries there is still some degree of gender bias. In a UN survey, almost 10
percent of Swedes agreed that “a man’s job is to earn money; a woman’s job is to
take care of
the home and family” (Mortvik and Spant, 2005).
The majority of countries surveyed by Pew have a positive attitude towards equality, but onlywhen it does not impinge on male welfare. In poor economic conditions, the majority of countries believe men are more deserving of work (Horowitz and Wike, 2010). Gender biasesare deep-
rooted in culture. The “otherness” of women is constructed, a product of “culturenot biology” (Mazurkiewicz, 2009). As culture is inherited, it will take time to erode
genderbiases and replace this conditional equality with a truer appreciation of gender equality.