Skip navigation

What is gender equality?

What is gender equality?

Gender equality is the measurable equal representation of women and men. Gender equality does not imply that women and men are the same, but that they have equal value and should be accorded equal treatment. 

The United Nations regards gender equality as a human right. It points out that empowering women is also an indispensable tool for advancing development and reducing poverty.

Equal pay for equal work is one of the areas where gender equality is rarely seen. All too often women are paid less than men for doing the same work.

This is one of the reasons that the majority of the world’s poor are women: around 70% of the people who live in extreme poverty, on less than US$1 a day, are girls and women.

Suffrage (the right to vote) is another area of gender equality that still does not extend to all the women in the world. Saudi Arabia does not give women the right to vote; in the USA right wing commentators say that women should never have been given the right to vote.

The importance of gender equality is highlighted by its inclusion as one of the 8 Millennium Development Goals that serve as a framework for halving poverty and improving lives.

Despite this, discrimination against women and girls (such as gender-based violence, economic discrimination, reproductive health inequities and harmful traditional practices) remains the most pervasive and persistent form of inequality.