The elimination of gender discrimination and the advancement of gender equality in the workplace, marketplace and community requires an understanding of underlying causes and the consideration of a wide range of issues. Key risk factors include:
- Widespread societal/cultural acceptance of gender discrimination: Deeply entrenched discrimination against women and girls transmits practices that inhibit women’s and girls’ rights. Social acceptance of domestic violence or social expectations that women manage childcare and all household responsibilities perpetuate discriminatory attitudes towards women.
- Laws and regulations: In some countries, women are actively and directly discriminated against through laws and regulations. Women may face state-sanctioned discrimination such as gender-biased legislation relating to access to education, credit, land ownership, inheritance rights or equal pay.
- Poorly enforced domestic labour laws: Due to a lack of government will, resources and/or capacity, poorly enforced domestic labour laws can lead to discrimination occurring in the workplace, marketplace and community without any remediation as the legal system to address discrimination may be weak.
- High levels of economic disparity between men and women: Women face unequal pay in most countries and are also at a higher risk of performing undervalued work (such as domestic work), putting them at a more vulnerable economic position than men. They are also much more likely to perform unpaid work such as domestic labour and childcare. These aspects can limit their decision-making powers or inhibit their access to opportunities such as education, capital or land.
- Limited access to education: Women continue to face significant barriers in accessing education in many countries. This pushes many women towards vulnerable forms of employment, for example in the informal economy, where they are over-represented compared to men and where they are at higher risk of rights violations and being excluded from social protections.