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Policy paper

PP61: Gains and gaps: Perceptions and experiences of gender in Africa

11 Nov 2019

Key findings

  • Africans share at least some of the SDG ambitions to create more equal societies. Across 34 countries, substantial majorities support women’s right to run for political office (71%) and to own and inherit land (72%).
  • They are less committed, however, to full economic equality: A much slimmer majority (53%) favour equal access to paying jobs for women, compared to 42% who believe men should have preference.
  • And even a woman’s fundamental right to physical safety has less-than-universal support: More than one in four Africans (28%) – including 24% of women – still see wife-beating as justifiable. In Gabon and Liberia, seven in 10 citizens share this view.
  • While most Africans say girls and boys now have equal access to education, significant gender gaps in educational achievement remain. Even among the youngest cohort, more women than men have no formal education, and more men than women have post-primary schooling.
  • Large majorities also say that women have achieved equal access to jobs. But women are less likely to participate in the labour market (55% vs. 67% of men), and among those who do, women are more likely to be unemployed (52% vs. 39%).
  • About one in eight women (12%) say they experienced discrimination based on their gender during the past year. One in three (32%) Liberian women report this experience.
  • Women lag behind men in ownership of assets and are substantially less likely to have decision-making power over household resources.
  • Women also trail men on indicators of digital access and connection. And the gap may be widening: Although women’s Internet use has doubled over the past five years, the gender gap in regular Internet use has increased.
  • Africans are divided on the question of whether women are making progress; 49% say equal opportunities and treatment for women are better than a few years ago, but almost as many say they are the same (31%) or worse (19%).
  • Nonetheless, almost two-thirds (64%) give their governments positive marks on promoting equal rights. There is, in short, some disconnect between popular satisfaction with equality performance and significant – and sometimes growing – gaps in actual achievement.

For the full report, click "Download now" below. For the press release, click here.