In a year where people have been forced to spend more time at home, and where the possibility to move and conduct a “normal” life have been highly restricted, the level of violence and sexual harassment already experienced by many women in past years might have been affected as well. WIN International, the world’s leading association in market research and polling, published the Annual WIN World Survey (WWS – 2020) exploring the views and beliefs of 29,252 individuals among citizens from 34 countries across the globe about gender equality, violence, and sexual harassment.
Many support the idea that domestic violence might have increased precisely due to the safety measures put in place during the pandemic. Others wonder whether the restrictions have had implications on gender equality. The research aims at monitoring the global data on violence and equality and detecting the changes compared to previous years.
Achievements in Gender Equality
As in previous measurements, gender equality is perceived the most at home, confirming the results of 2019 (from 72% to 71%). Considering that home became the center of our life, data support the idea that equality is more perceived in the place where we all spent most of our time.
The second place where individuals spent most of their time is definitely the workplace. On a global level, 60% of the respondents feel that gender equality at work is definitely or to what extent achieved, but the share of men believing that is higher than women’s (65% vs. 55% respectively).
However, although it increased by 3 points compared to last year (from 48% to 51%), perceived gender equality in politics is still very low, being the sector where men and women still struggle to be treated equally. In addition, perception varies a lot between men and women once again: 56% of men and 47% of women believe gender equality in politics is achieved in their country.
When looking at different age groups, young people are the most optimistic. Citizens 25-34 years old believe gender equality is better achieved than other age groups, especially at home (73%), at work (64%) and in politics (53%). The study also reveals that people with higher educational levels tend to share the same opinion.
To better evaluate how gender equality is perceived across countries, the net index was considered; the index ranks countries from those where gender equality is better achieved to the countries where improvements are still needed. Indexes at work and in politics rise slightly on a global level (from 25 to 26 points, and from 2 to 8 points, respectively), but there are a few important differences compared to 2019. The net index for gender equality in politics increases 5 points within men (from 12 to 17), and 7 points among women (from -7 to 0). Results by countries show that Finland is in the top 5 of the ranking for every category, namely work, politics and home (definitely + to some extent achieved: 80%, 90% and 86% respectively). On the other hand, Japan, like last year, scores negatively in all the evaluated fields.
Compared to previous years, there is little or no improvement in terms of violence suffered by women: results are unfortunately stable (17% in 2020, 16% in 2019 and 2018).
Although both regions show an improvement compared to last year, women in the Americas and women in Africa suffered from violence (physical or psychological) more so than women in other areas (23% and 24% respectively). MENA region falls not far behind from the top two, with 22% of women stating they suffered from violence in the past year. Europe and APAC have lower shares of women who experienced some kind of violence in 2020 (13% and 12% respectively), but the percentage in the APAC region increased by 4 points compared to 2019 (from 8% to 12%).
Consistent with previous results, women between 18 and 24 years old show the highest incidence of physical and psychological violence (24%), just like 2 out of 10 women with completed primary education (21%).
When looking at data by countries, the share of Indian women experiencing violence is higher than in other countries (48%), followed by Chilean and Argentine women (36% each). Lowest percentages are found in Vietnam (1%), China and South Korea (5%, each).
Two countries show significant differences with the data from previous years: India suffered a considerable increase in the percentage of women declaring that they suffered violence (from 8% to 48%), while in Peru figures show a reduction compared to the year before (from 40% to 22%).
It is known that, in times of crisis, interpersonal violence might increase as a result of fear, financial and personal insecurity, and uncertainty. Lockdowns and other safety measures restricted the possibility to move, allowed fewer family visits, and made the support system in many cases unavailable. Therefore, when comparing data with previous years, it is important to keep considering the particular context brought by 2020, which has a strong influence also on the interpretation of the data.
Despite efforts and campaigns worldwide, results show little improvement: 8% of women suffered sexual harassment in the last year (2020), compared to 9% in 2019 and 10% in 2018. In relation to other regions, women in the Americas report having suffered from sexual harassment to a greater extent, even though it has dropped 4 points from last year (from 20% to 16%).
Young women (between the ages of 18 and 24) still register the highest rate of sexual harassment (18%). Women in India, Mexico, and Brazil have reported the highest percentages of sexual harassment in 2020 (29%, 28%, and 21%, respectively). While Vietnam (1%), Slovenia (1%), and Indonesia (2%) have the lowest figures.
In India, the percentage of women who suffered from sexual harassment increased by 25 points, compared to the previous measurement (from 4% to 29%). Again, results in Peru indicate an improvement: an important decrease in the percentage of women that suffered from any type of sexual harassment (from 32% in 2019 to 20% in 2020).
Vilma Scarpino, President of WIN International Association, said:
” Overall, figures do not improve significantly compared to last years. On the bright side, improvements were detected more on a regional level and from a country point of view. This also points to another consideration: data on equality and on violence significantly varies not only when it comes to gender (men and women have different views about it), but also when different countries and cultures, and therefore the different efforts put in place by governments and associations, are taken into account.
Once we are aware of how different results can be achieved when different efforts are put in place, it becomes clear how to understand best practices and adapt them to help improve results and help women worldwide.”
 Net % = (% Definitely achieved + To some extend achieved) – (% Not really achieved + Not at all achieved)