- Seven in ten (68%) agree there is currently inequality between men and women in terms of social, political, and/or economic rights in their country, down slightly from 2017.
- However, one in two (54%) say that when it comes to giving women equal rights with men, things have gone far enough in their country –gradually increasing since 2019.
- There are concerns about the impact of equality on men, with half (54%) agreeing men are being expected to do too much to support equality (also up from 2019), and half (48%) agreeing that things have gone so far in promoting women’s equality that men are being discriminated against.
- Even so, three in five (62%) agree there are actions they can take to help promote equality, with a similar share (56%) reporting they have taken at least one action in the past year. But there is also evidence of barriers, with over 1 in 3 (37%) feeling scared to speak out for women's rights because of what might happen to them – higher than in 2017.
Most agree that there is inequality between men and women - but differ on whether men benefit from gender equality
Looking at respondents across all generations globally, the majority agree that inequality between men and women persists, and that improvements will require efforts from both men and women. A global country average of 68% agree there is currently inequality between men and women in terms of social, political, and/or economic rights in their country (looking at the trend since 2017 across a sub-sample of 22 countries, the proportion who believe inequality exists has fallen by five points since then). There is a similar level of agreement that women won’t achieve equality in their country unless men take action to support women’s rights (64% global country average), and that there are actions people can personally take to help promote equality between men and women (62%).
Just over half (55%) believe equality between men and women will be achieved in their lifetime – across the 25 countries who took part in 2018 and 2023, optimism that equality will be achieved is five points higher than before the Covid pandemic. In line with this, people around the world tend to believe young people will have a better life than their parents’ generation – although a larger proportion feel optimistic about the future of young women (51% global country average) than for young men (42%).
When asked whether gender equality mainly benefits women, mainly benefits men, or is good for both men and women, half (53%) say it is good for both genders, with a further one in five (18%) saying it mainly benefits women. Men are more likely than women to agree that gender equality mainly benefits women (22% of men compared to 13% of women). Only 8% say that gender equality mainly benefits men.
Despite this, a majority (54% global country average) also agree that when it comes to giving women equal rights with men, things have gone far enough in their country – an identical proportion (54%) say that men are expected to do too much to support equality. Indeed, 48% agree that we have gone so far in promoting women’s equality that we’re discriminating against men. And there are signs that these views are held more widely now than before the Covid pandemic. On average across 25 countries, the proportion of people who think men are being expected to do too much to support equality has risen by 9 points from 43% to 52% between 2019 and 2023. At the same time, there has been a seven-point rise in the belief that things have gone far enough when it comes to giving women equal rights, from 42% to 49%.
Day-to-day incidents of sexism persist, but most say they're able to take action - despite increasing belief that there's risk in doing so
Four in ten (43% global country average) report having witnessed at least one of several forms of gender discrimination in the past year, with the most common being hearing a friend or family member make a sexist comment (27%), followed by seeing examples of gender discrimination at work (20%), and seeing someone sexually harass a woman (14%).
Three in five (59%) say they’ve taken at least one action to promote gender equality in the past year. The most common actions taken include talking about gender equality with family or friends (32%), speaking up when a friend or family member made a sexist comment (21%), and talking about gender equality at work (21%). Over one in three (37%) said they have taken no action in the past year.
However, there is also evidence of the barriers that are preventing people from taking action to support gender inequality. Over one in three (global country average of 37%) say they are scared to speak out and advocate the equal rights of women because of what might happen to them. This too has increased over the last six years: between 2017 and 2023, the average proportion across 22 countries feeling scared to speak out has risen from 24% to 33%.
When asked directly, respondents also named other barriers: feeling that there’s nothing people can do that will really make a difference (13%), not knowing how to talk about gender equality/what next steps should be taken (11%), feeling that it’s irrelevant/unimportant (10%), and feeling concerned about being physically abused or threatened (10%). More positively, the least commonly selected responses were that it’s only a women’s issue (asked of men only; 6%), that people don’t think gender equality exists (6%), and that they don’t want to promote it (5%).
Younger generations are more optimistic about the future than older age groups, but they are also more cautious about the risk of speaking out and are more concerned that gender equality negatively impacts men
On average across all 32 countries surveyed, Gen Z (45%) and Millennials (44%) are more likely to identify as feminists, compared to 37% of Gen X and 36% of Baby Boomers. Furthermore, two in three Gen Z (65%) and Millennials (65%) agree there are actions they can take to promote equality between men and women, as do 61% of Gen X, but falling to 52% of Baby Boomers. Similarly, younger generations are more likely to agree that gender equality will be achieved in their lifetime (60% of Gen Z and 61% of Millennials, vs 53% of Gen X and 44% of Baby Boomers). Gen Z are also the most likely to have taken at least one of the listed actions in support of gender equality in the past year (68%), and this falls steadily with each generation, with Baby Boomers the least likely to have taken action (41%).
This optimism comes despite a larger share of Gen Z (48%) and Millennials (43%) saying they’re scared to speak out for women’s equal rights because of what might happen to them, a fear shared by one in three Gen Xers (32%) and only one in four Baby Boomers (23%). The younger generations are also more likely to say they’ve seen at least one form of discrimination mentioned in the survey (58% Gen Z and 49% Millennials compared with 36% Gen X and 26% of Baby Boomers).
At the same time, about half of Gen Z (52%) and Millennials (53%) agree that things have gone so far in promoting women’s equality that men are being discriminated against, falling to 46% of Gen X and 40% of Baby Boomers. Younger generations are also the most likely to agree that a man who stays home to look after his children is less of a man, with 30% each of Gen Z and Millennials agreeing with this statement compared to 22% of Gen X and just 14% of Baby Boomers.
For more information, please contact Olivia Ryan
About this study
These are the results of a 32-country survey conducted by Ipsos on its Global Advisor online platform. Ipsos interviewed a total of 22,508 adults aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey, 20-74 in Thailand, 21-74 in Indonesia and Singapore and 16-74 in 24 other markets between Friday, December 22, 2022 and Friday, January 6, 2023.