The battle for gender equality in modern society has lost ground to the global health crisis, climate change and war, UN research finds.

women office gender equality

According to an international survey conducted with UN Women’s HeForShe initiative, most people feel that climate change is a more serious issue than gender equality, even as 80% of those displaced are women.

As a result, gender equality has fallen to 10th in a world ranking of the most pressing issues faced by societies today.

The study found that climate change actually impacts negatively more upon women. Over half (53%) of women polled held the misconception that climate change affects everyone equally. This belief was held by 45% of male respondents.

However, once respondents were told that 80% of people who find themselves displaced as a result of climate change are women, those same respondents expressed “sadness, surprised and disbelief”. Over half (57%) subsequently said that they found this new information to be extremely or very concerning. 

While three-quarters of people (77%) said they believe climate change is a serious issue, only 59% of people view gender equality as seriously. Experts say that these statistics reveal an imbalance between the importance people place on climate change and gender equality. But these two issues have a deep connection and the effects of climate change have a detrimental impact on the progress of gender equality.

Samuel Dean, CEO of TEAM LEWIS Foundation, said:

“The struggle for gender equality has been demoted by war, climate change, and COVID.

“This research shows that people are overlooking gender equality. Sustainability and gender equality are both important but can no longer be viewed in isolation. One way we can tackle the climate crisis is by elevating more voices. Men have a role to play by raising awareness of the link between sustainability and gender equality. The battle for gender equality cannot lose momentum,” Dean added.

The report reveals that while gender equality has lost ground to other societal issues, people want governments to act on gender equality. An overwhelming majority (75%) believe that women must be included in government solutions for fighting climate change.

Edward Wageni, global head of HeForShe, said:

“Gender equality needs to be a priority for all of us. This research shows that when gender inequality is highlighted, the vast majority want to take action.

“Together we can work towards a more gender-equal and sustainable world. Men can play their part as allies by amplifying women’s voices and lifting the stories of others,” Wageni continued. 

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