A Snapshot of Gender Inequality: 50 of the World’s Most Sexist Laws, Policies, and Norms

There is still no place or part of life where girls and women are treated equally. Across the globe, gender inequality remains enshrined in laws, norms, and policies, pervading every sphere of daily life.

The United Nations Foundation surveyed the latest research on discriminatory laws, policies, and norms globally from some of the world’s most authoritative sources, including UN Women and the World Bank.

We rounded up 50 of the most egregious, absurd, and discriminatory examples that show how girls and women across the globe are being denied full equality.

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In the Home


of countries limit women’s right to own property.


countries have not enacted legislation to address domestic violence.

In the Community


of countries still restrict women’s freedom of movement.


countries do not consider women’s testimony to carry the same evidentiary weight in court as men’s.

What we need is a level playing field and a dismantling of attitudes which prevent women from advancing.

- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Former President of Liberia

In the Workplace


countries do not legally provide equal pay for work of equal value.


countries require women to have their husband’s permission to work outside the home.

In Leadership


Global 500 companies are led by women — an all-time high.


women were serving as Heads of State and/or Government in 31 countries as of October 2023. At the current rate, it will take another 130 years to reach gender equality in the highest positions of power.

When a woman succeeds, she reaches out to those around her and pulls them up with her. That is why if you empower a woman, you empower a whole society.

- Her Majesty Queen Rania al Abdullah of Jordan

In Media


of stories in traditional media were reported by women in 2020.

In Technology


of science, technology, engineering, and mathematic students in higher education globally are women.

Thriving nations are equal nations.

- Sima Bahous

Under-Secretary-General of the UN and UN Women Executive Director

Know the Facts

Girls and women won’t be equal anywhere until they are equal everywhere.

Understanding how laws, policies, and norms are holding women back is a key first step to taking action.

Want to learn more? Explore the full collection of facts about the ways in which gender discrimination continues to hold back girls and women in every part of life.

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