Just Sociology

Breaking the Chain: Examining Global Gender Inequalities in 2020

Gender inequalities remain a prominent issue in the world, impacting many areas of life such as education, employment, and reproductive health. Despite significant progress in some countries, this issue persists globally in 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also disproportionately affected women, particularly in regards to medical personnel, unpaid care work, and domestic violence. To understand the current state of global gender inequalities, this article will explore three subtopics: marriage and reproductive health, education and employment, and the impact of the pandemic.

Furthermore, statistics from the Gender Gap Report and

Women Peace and Security Index will be discussed to demonstrate the extent of ongoing gender inequalities.

Marriage and Reproductive Health

Child marriage, reproductive rights, and female genital mutilation (FGM) are all significant challenges to gender equality. Child marriage is a global issue, with at least 20,000 girls under the age of 18 getting married every day.

This practice can have severe consequences, such as higher rates of infant mortality, maternal mortality, and complications during childbirth. Additionally, women who are forced into marriage are often denied education and independence, limiting their opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Reproductive rights are also a critical issue in achieving gender equality. Access to reproductive healthcare is crucial for women’s health and well-being, but many women around the world still face significant barriers to receiving care.

These barriers can include cultural stigmas, inadequate healthcare infrastructure, and policies that limit reproductive autonomy. FGM is another significant issue faced by women globally.

This practice involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia, and it can cause severe physical and psychological harm. It is estimated that around 4.1 million girls worldwide are at risk of FGM every year.

The practice is often defended as a cultural tradition, but it violates women’s human rights and must be eradicated.

Education and Employment

Access to education is a critical factor in reducing gender inequalities. However, many girls still face significant challenges in accessing education, particularly in countries with low levels of development.

Poverty, cultural norms, and violence against women can all contribute to limiting girls’ educational opportunities. Furthermore, girls who do attend school are often subject to sexual harassment and other forms of violence, which can also impede their ability to receive an education.

Women’s access to employment opportunities has been identified as another significant challenge in achieving gender equality. Although women make up almost half of the world’s working-age population, they are often concentrated in poorly paid and precarious jobs.

Furthermore, women are underrepresented in managerial positions, and they are more likely to experience unemployment than men. These systemic inequalities have far-reaching consequences, including the perpetuation of the gender pay gap and the exclusion of women from decision-making processes.

Impact of the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women, exacerbating many existing gender inequalities. Women make up a significant proportion of medical personnel, putting them at great risk of exposure to the virus.

Furthermore, women are often responsible for unpaid care work, which has increased significantly during the pandemic due to school closures and the need for additional support for sick family members. The pandemic has also led to a significant increase in domestic violence worldwide.

Women in abusive relationships have been trapped in close quarters with their abusers, making it challenging for them to seek help. Additionally, many women have been unable to access essential healthcare services, such as reproductive healthcare and family planning, due to pandemic-related disruptions.

Gender Gap Report & Country Rankings

The Gender Gap Report, published by the World Economic Forum (WEF), provides a comprehensive overview of the state of gender equality in countries around the world. The report measures the gender gap across four key areas: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.

In the 2020 report, Iceland topped the rankings for the 11th consecutive year, followed by Norway, Finland, and Sweden. Yemen ranked last out of the 153 countries evaluated.

The United Nations also ranks countries in terms of gender equality through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs call for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls, with 2030 as the target year for achieving gender equality.

Women Peace and Security Index


Women Peace and Security Index (WPSI) is another tool used to measure gender inequality globally. The WPSI is a composite index that measures women’s well-being and empowerment across three dimensions: inclusion, justice, and security.

In the 2019 index, Norway, Switzerland, and Finland ranked highest in terms of women’s overall well-being and empowerment, while Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen ranked lowest.


In conclusion, gender inequality remains a pervasive issue globally, with significant challenges in areas such as marriage and reproductive health, education and employment, and the impact of the pandemic. However, tools such as the Gender Gap Report and

Women Peace and Security Index provide a framework for understanding and addressing these issues.

Through sustained efforts from governments, civil society organizations and individuals, progress can be made towards achieving gender equality and reducing the gender gap worldwide. Expansion:

Gender inequality in employment and education remains a significant issue that requires urgent attention from policymakers, civil society organizations, and individuals.

This article will discuss two main topics: gender inequalities in employment and education.

Wage Gap

One of the most pervasive forms of gender inequality in employment is the wage gap, which exists in nearly every country worldwide. The wage gap refers to the disparity between men’s and women’s earnings, and it is highest in vulnerable jobs, such as those in the informal sector.

Women in these jobs are more likely to experience low pay, inadequate benefits, and poor working conditions, all of which exacerbate gender inequalities. The wage gap is also present in formal sector jobs, especially in senior management positions.

Women are often underrepresented in these positions and are more likely to be paid less than their male counterparts for the same work. In many cases, this is due to direct discrimination, but it can also be attributed to systemic factors such as gender biases in recruitment and promotion processes.

Labor Force Participation

Another critical issue in employment is labor force participation rates. Women’s labor force participation varies widely by region, with the highest rates found in Northern Africa and Western Asia, and the lowest rates in Southern Asia.

In sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, the overall labor force participation rate is 63 percent for men and 57 percent for women. Women in this region are more likely to work in the informal sector, where jobs are less stable, and the wage gap is higher.

In addition to regional differences, there are also significant disparities in labor force participation rates within countries. For example, women from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds are less likely to participate in the labor force, as are women with disabilities.

These disparities contribute to perpetuating gender inequality by limiting women’s opportunities for economic independence and financial security.

Enrollment and Literacy Rates

The gender gap in education affects millions of girls and women worldwide, particularly in developing countries. Primary education enrollment rates have increased worldwide, but in many regions, girls are still less likely to attend school than boys, particularly at the secondary and tertiary levels.

In sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, only 8 percent of girls complete secondary education, compared to 14 percent of boys. This disparity limits girls’ ability to gain essential reading and writing skills and hinders their access to future employment opportunities.

Furthermore, literacy rates among young women aged 15-24 have improved globally, but they are still lower than those of men in almost every country. For example, in Pakistan, only 57 percent of women are literate, compared to 72 percent of men.

Limited access to education for girls and young women has significant consequences, not only for their individual lives but also for their families and communities.

Education Field Graduation Rates

Gender inequalities persist in fields of study and graduation rates at higher education levels. Women are underrepresented in fields such as science, engineering, and technology, whereas they are overrepresented in education, health and welfare, and humanities and the arts.

This occupational segregation can limit women’s opportunities for higher-paying jobs and perpetuate the gender pay gap. Moreover, graduation rates for women in tertiary education are significantly lower than those for men in many countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.

Many factors contribute to these disparities, such as cultural norms, social and economic barriers, and discrimination.

Unequal Access to Universities

Access to universities is also a significant issue in gender inequality in education. In many regions, sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia in particular, women face significant barriers to accessing tertiary education.

While the overall tertiary enrollment rate has increased worldwide, the gender gap in enrollment rates has largely remained the same. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, for every 100 young men enrolled in tertiary education, only 68 young women are enrolled.

Additionally, women in many regions are more likely to drop out of university due to various socio-economic factors. They may face harassment on campus or struggle to balance family and work responsibilities, leading to lower completion rates.

Unequal access to university education limits women’s opportunities for higher-paying jobs and reinforces patterns of gender inequality.


Gender inequalities in employment and education remain significant obstacles to achieving gender equality globally. The wage gap and labor force participation rates are crucial issues that need to be addressed to ensure women’s economic empowerment.

Similarly, unequal access to education at all levels requires policies and actions to provide girls and women access to quality education. By addressing these issues, through legislation, education programs, community organizing, and investment in infrastructure, we can further achieve gender equality and reduce the gender gap.


Gender inequalities in health and politics are pervasive issues that continue to affect women worldwide. Women are often disproportionately impacted by poor maternal health, reproductive rights violations, and violence.

Additionally, women are underrepresented in politics, with limited access to decision-making power. This article will discuss two subtopics: gender inequalities in health and politics.

Maternal Health and Reproductive Rights

Maternal health is a critical component of women’s overall health and well-being. Access to quality maternity services is essential to prevent maternal morbidity and mortality, which remains a significant health issue for women.

Globally, an estimated 295,000 women die each year from pregnancy-related complications, with the majority of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries. Women’s reproductive rights are a contentious issue worldwide, with many women facing significant challenges in accessing essential healthcare services such as family planning and pre- and post-natal care.

Some women are denied the right to make decisions about their reproductive health, leading to unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and related health complications. Women from marginalized communities are particularly vulnerable to these issues, as they often face significant barriers to accessing essential healthcare services.

Overt Violence

Gender-based violence is a significant global issue that affects millions of women and girls worldwide. Domestic violence, rape, female infanticide, female genital mutilation/cutting, and forced marriage are just a few examples of the types of violence women face.

These forms of violence are often perpetuated by social and cultural norms that justify and accept such behavior towards women. Domestic violence affects millions of women worldwide, with women facing physical, emotional, and economic abuse from their partners.

Rape and sexual assault are also significant issues, with many women afraid to report such crimes due to fear of retaliation or social stigma. Female infanticide is another prevalent form of gender-based violence, as girls are often undervalued in societies where sons are preferred.

Female genital mutilation/cutting is another harmful practice that causes significant physical and psychological harm to women.

Women in Parliament

Political representation is critical for ensuring women’s rights and access to decision-making power. However, women continue to be underrepresented in parliament worldwide.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union reported that women held 25.1 percent of parliamentary seats worldwide in 2020, an increase from 23.7 percent in 2015. This progress is slow, and there are still significant disparities in representation.

Many countries have implemented affirmative action policies to increase women’s representation in politics, such as gender quotas and reserved seats. In Rwanda, for example, women hold 61 percent of parliamentary seats, in part because of a constitutional quota.

Other countries, such as India, have a similar system of reserved seats for women in local government, which has led to increased participation and leadership opportunities for women.


Gender inequalities in health and politics continue to impede the progress towards achieving gender equality worldwide. Poor maternal health and reproductive rights violations, along with the prevalence of gender-based violence, pose significant threats to women’s well-being.

Additionally, women are underrepresented in politics, with limited access to decision-making power, perpetuating the gap between men and women. To address these inequalities, governments and civil society organizations must implement policies and programming that ensures women’s access to quality healthcare and representation in politics.

Through sustained efforts, progress can be made towards achieving gender equality, and we can work towards a just and equitable world for all. In conclusion, gender inequalities pervade all aspects of life, including education, employment, health, and politics.

While progress has been made, significant barriers remain, limiting women’s access to opportunities and perpetuating the gap between men and women. The COVID-19 pandemic has also exacerbated these inequalities, revealing deep-seated systemic issues that must be addressed.

It is essential to continue working towards gender equality, investing in education, healthcare, and policies that ensure women’s economic, political and social empowerment. By doing so, we can achieve a just and equitable world for all, where everyone has an equal opportunity to thrive.


1. What is the gender pay gap, and how does it impact women’s economic empowerment?

The gender pay gap refers to the disparity between men’s and women’s earnings. Women often earn significantly less than men for the same work, limiting their access to economic opportunities and perpetuating gender inequalities.

2. How can we address gender-based violence?

Gender-based violence is a complex issue that requires action at multiple levels. We must work to change social and cultural norms that perpetuate violence and implement policies and programs that ensure survivors have access to support and justice.

3. What is the impact of gender inequalities on maternal health?

Maternal mortality rates remain high in many parts of the world, with women from marginalized communities often facing the greatest barriers to accessing essential maternal health services. Improving access to quality maternity services and reproductive healthcare is critical to addressing this issue.

4. What policies can be implemented to increase women’s representation in politics?

Gender quotas, reserved seats, and other affirmative action policies have been successful in increasing women’s representation in politics in many countries. It is essential to continue working towards equal representation to ensure women’s voices are heard in decision-making processes.

5. How can we address gender inequalities in education?

To address gender inequalities in education, we must work to ensure that girls have equal access to education at all levels, eliminate barriers to education, and encourage girls to pursue a range of fields of study. Additionally, promoting gender-sensitive teaching and learning environments can help reduce gender disparities in education.

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