Statistics on Discrimination of Women


1. Gender inequality in general
2. Gender inequality at work
2.1. Wage gap
2.2. Occupational gender segregation
2.3. Glass ceiling
2.4. Cultural and legal restrictions to women’s right to work
2.5. Labor force participation
3. Gender inequality in education
4. Gender inequality in mentalities
5. Gender inequality in politics
6. Gender inequality in inheritance and property rights
7. Gendercide
8. Dress code

1. Gender inequality in general

Take just this one country to start us off: the World Economic Forum ranks Japan a dismal 101st in gender equality out 135 countries — behind Azerbaijan, Indonesia and China. Not a single Nikkei 225 company is run by a woman. Female participation in politics is negligible, and the male-female wage gap is double the average in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries (source).

And then take a look at the rest of the world. Indeed, inequality between the sexes manifests itself in many different places and in many areas of life, and it takes on many different forms:

70 percent of the two billion poor are women; two thirds of illiterate adults are women; employment rates for women are declining after increasing (yes, of course, the world wars are now over). At the same time many women are forced into veils and burqas, burnt for merely looking at men, stoned to death or buried alive for adultery, forced into sex, pregnancy and delivering HIV-infected children because they were raped, but if they were to report it, they would either be raped again, executed, exiled from their village or town or family. (source)

The idea behind the concept of the feminization of poverty is that high poverty rates among women are caused by discriminatory policies, practices and opinions (such as labor market restrictions, lower wages for women, lack of equal education opportunities, substandard healthcare for women etc.).

There are many different systems that try to measure and aggregate all these forms and manifestations of gender inequality and to rank countries accordingly. There’s the Gender-Related Development Index (or G.D.I.), for example. It takes as its starting point the famous Human Development Index based on life expectancy at birth, enrollment in schools, adult literacy and per capita gross domestic product.

There’s also the Gender Empowerment Measure (G.E.M.), which focuses more narrowly on relative levels of political participation and decision-making power, economic participation and earnings.

And then there’s the Gender Equity Index (G.E.I.) that combines elements similar to both the G.D.I. and the G.E.M. It measures education gaps between men and women (such as literacy gaps and gaps in enrollment rates), differences in participation in the economy (workforce participation, income gaps), and empowerment issues (number of women in government etc.).

Finally, the World Economic Forum publishes a Gender Gap Index (G.G.I.) that combines quantitative measures with some qualitative measures based on a survey of 9,000 business leaders in 104 countries. This “Global Gender Gap Index”, like the other measures, rankscountries according to the level of gender-inequality existing in those countries. It is based on 14 indicators covering political representation, access to education, health and economic participation.

These are the categories that are measured by the Global Gender Gap Index:

global gender gap index criteria

And this is the 2007 ranking (there are no long historical series so difficult to analyze evolutions):

gender equality

And the 2009 ranking:

Global Gender Gap 2009


Here’s a map of country performances:

global gender gap index map


Global Gender Gap 2009


All these rankings are by definition somewhat simplistic since they can’t take into account all the multiple dimensions of gender discrimination. Another major shortcoming is that none of the rankings takes into account the impact of informal work, unpaid work, reproductive work and other issues that are critical to understanding gender equality.

It’s also interesting to look at other measures of gender discrimination, such as countries’ performances as perceived by public opinion:

gender equality perception of public opinion

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2. Gender inequality at work

Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work (art. 23 of the Universal Declaration). However, even in industrialized countries there are large differences in salaries by gender, even within the same occupations. On top of that, there are promotion obstacles for women and women tend to get “sorted” in low-paying professions, sometimes even by the force of law.

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2.1. Wage gap

Let’s first have a look at the wage gap in total:

equal salary gender gap

pay gap between men and women in europe

Here are data for the OECD:

gender wage gap oecd


South Korea has the worst gender pay gap in the world – women earn 38% less than men.

Here’s a map showing some regional differences in the wage gap in the U.S.:

women's earnings compared to men's, gender wage gap in the US


In the U.S., the median annual income for women working full time is 23 percent lower than for their male counterparts. According to other estimates, women in the US earn only 82.2% of men’s earnings.

Fortunately, the wage gap has been diminishing in some countries:

gender pay gap



gender inequality at work wage gap


In the U.S., among those who are single, child free, under 30 and living in metro areas, women even have higher average earnings than men. Of course, this doesn’t mean that everything will be fine with the passing of time: when these high earning women get older, some disadvantages of being a woman may still kick in.

Some more detailed data for the US showing the closing of the gap, especially among younger people:

salary gap men and women


gender wage gap in the US, by age group


The reasons for the tentative closing of the gap are numerous: better education for women, more women joining the workforce, the entry of women into traditionally male occupations, less pay discrimination (sometimes the result of anti-discrimination legislation), but also, unfortunately, wage stagnation for men, at least in the U.S.:

male and female wage development


Although it’s wrong to blame the wage gap entirely on discrimination, it’s likely that there is some discrimination involved. The phenomenon is probably an indication of an even deeper kind of prejudice.

The discrimination argument is often countered with the claim that much of the gap in wages today can be explained by occupational choice (see here and here). And indeed it’s true that women seem much more likely than men to prefer jobs that involve nurturing and caring – teaching and nursing are the classic examples – and these jobs happen to pay less. However, even if women earn less because they tend to choose less paying jobs, there may still be discrimination: women may be socialized into choosing certain occupations and this socialization may be caused by prejudice. Furthermore, women’s prefered occupations may pay less precisely because they are prefered by women.

Anyway, occupational choice doesn’t explain the whole wage gap. Even within one and the same profession there are wage differences. Look at this breakdown by profession (still for the U.S. only):
wage gap by profession

(source, to view specific professions, use the interactive version of this graph here)

gender wage gap by industry


US gender wage gap by occupation


Maybe it’s because women work less hours? Nope. Among people working 50+ hours/week, 50+ weeks/year, women’s earnings are 83% of men’s in the same occupation (source).

Another common reply to the discrimination argument is that wage gaps are due to the fact that many women decide to interrupt their career after child birth. But why should it be women who have to interrupt their career? Discrimination may therefore still play a role (in the form of stereotypical gender roles). And anyway, career interruption as an explanation for the wage gap is a red herring:

U.S. Department of Education data show that a year out of school, despite having earned higher college GPAs in every subject, young women will take home, on average across all professions, just 80 percent of what their male colleagues do. Even at the top end, female M.B.A.s make $4,600 less per year in their first job out of business school… Motherhood has long been the explanation for the persistent pay gap, yet a decade out of college, full-time working women who haven’t had children still make 77 cents on the male dollar. (source)

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2.2. Occupational gender segregation

Even though there is a wage gap within professions, it’s true that the total wage gap is also in part determined by professional choice. Coincidentally or not, “men’s jobs” are generally better paid than “women’s jobs”:

occupational sex segregation and wage inequality

(source, click image to enlarge)

Now, some call this “occupational sex segregation” but that may be too strong a term since there are no longer a lot of legal restrictions on the employment of women, at least not in the U.S. or other developed countries. Women aren’t segregated by law into very specific occupations. Cultural pressures may still exist, however. Women often feel obliged to choose occupations that mix well with family responsibilities because those responsibilities tend to weigh heavier on women. And those occupations tend to be less profitable. Such a sense of obligation is not a sign of gender equality.

Here’s an overview of occupational gender “segregation” in the US:

gender segregation at work


It’s also not clear to what extent women – voluntarily or not – choose jobs that are less well paid, and to what extent employers decide that jobs chosen by women merit less pay.

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2.3. Glass ceiling

And, finally, unequal promotion opportunities and the “glass ceiling” also explain, in part, the wage gap:

women on boards


Only 13 of the 500 largest corporations in the world have a female Chief Executive Officer. And it’s not just the top level that is a problem:

percent female among managers

percent female among managers


The last graph above again shows a pattern of job segregation.

The gender pay gap is therefore the result of a combination of different types of gender discrimination:

  • pushing or socializing women into jobs that are less well paid
  • paying less for the types of jobs that women tend to choose, with or without socialization
  • paying women less than men within the same types of jobs
  • giving women less opportunities to climb the professional ladder
  • failing to give women and girls the same opportunities to enter some types of jobs (e.g. because of legal employment restrictions, unequal education, child marriage, socialization into certain types of education etc.)
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2.4. Cultural and legal restrictions to women’s right to work

Hence, gender discrimination at work isn’t just a matter of unequal pay. Sorting – or, if you insist, segregation – also plays a role. As does exclusion, both legal and informal. Take a look at this poll:

public opinion on job opportunities for men and women

when jobs are scarce men should have more right to a job


More harmful still are legal restrictions of women’s right to work.

legal restrictions on women's right to work


Often, laws prohibiting the employment of women in certain sectors of the economy are defended on the basis of a vague narrative about the need to protect women. Such limitations exist in 48 countries. The human rights consequences are numerous:

  • These limitations violate the right to work.
  • They limit labor opportunities and hence make women dependent on the income of their husbands. This dependence can be used by husbands to entrench other forms of gender discrimination.
  • Labor market restrictions force women into marriages they would otherwise not choose, and they probably encourage child marriage.
  • Because women live longer, tend to have smaller saving rates and are not allowed to inherit in certain countries, labor market restrictions can result in poverty in old age.
  • Etc.
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2.5. Labor force participation

Labor participation is a problem. Worldwide, women hold about 40 percent of the world’s paid jobs, although they make up 50% of the population. Although we’ve come a long way – in 1900, only 15 percent of the global workforce was female -there are still some black spots. In Arab states, only 28 percent of women participate in the workforce. In Pakistan it’s 22%. On the other hand, 73% of adult women work in Vietnam. And yet, women produce 50 percent of the world’s food. In some regions, women provide 70 percent of agricultural labor and produce more than 90 percent of the food.

female employees in non-agricultural work

gender inequality at work labor participation




Some numbers for the US:

female labor force participation in the US


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3. Gender inequality in education

There is a global gender disparity in primary and secondary education. Some of this disparity is expressed in literacy rates:


gender equality in education


gender gap in education


Here are some data suggesting that religion and Islam in particular have an influence on the gender gap in education, at least in Africa:

influence of religion on educational gender gaps in Africa

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4. Gender inequality in mentalities



gender discrimination

leadership gender


public opinion on equal rights for women


muslim support for equal rights for women

muslim support for equal rights for women


university degree is more important for a boy than for a girl

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5. Gender in equality in politics

Generally, democratic political systems are characterized by higher levels of gender equality:

democracy and gender equality correlation


However, even in the best democracy, men and women aren’t always treated equally. In a representative democracy, one can reasonably expect to have a parliament that is roughly representative of the population in general: poor people should have their representatives or delegates just like rich people, women just like men, minorities just like majorities. This representativeness isn’t an absolute requirement. One can have a democracy without it. The people, after all, may decide that their views are best represented by an all-male, all-white body of wealthy parliamentarians for example.

It seems statistically unlikely that this would be their decision in each consecutive election in each democratic country. Imbalances in the demographics of parliament that persist over time and space are probably not the result of the choices of voters but of other factors, such as discrimination, prejudice, unequal opportunities etc. If that’s the case, we are dealing with an imperfect democracy because democracy means equal influence and an equal chance to get elected (art. 21 of the Universal Declaration and art. 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights).

And that is the case. Take the share of women in parliament for instance. In almost every major democracy of the world, election after election, women are a (tiny) minority in parliament. Around the world, almost 20% of national parliamentary seats are now occupied by women, up from 17.2% five years ago. The most equitable parliament in the world at present is Rwanda’s lower house, where women hold nearly 49 per cent of the seats.

It’s very unlikely if not impossible that voters systematically decide that certain men are better parliamentarians. There must be other, more deeply embedded motives for such a choice, related to the generally inferior position of women in patriarchal societies.

Here are some data:

number of parliamentarians worldwide

women in parliament


women in parliament


women in us congress


gender inequality in the US Congress


women in congress


women elected to parliament


A complete up-to-date data set is here. And below are some maps showing the percentage of seats in different parliamentary houses that are held by women – darker shades represent a higher share of seats held by women:

gender equality in politics map

gender equality in politics map


women's share in parliament


Percentage of Women in State Legislatures in the US

In only 23 countries do women comprise over 30 percent in the lower house of their national parliament.

As a result, about half of the world’s countries currently use some type of electoral quota for their national legislatures. But it’s not just the legislatures that lack gender balance: only 14 women in the world were either Head of State or Head of Government in 2010, and on average, only 1 in 6 cabinet ministers in the world is a woman.

Local government isn’t much better:

share of women among mayors

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6. Gender inequality in inheritance and property rights

In many parts of the world, women face legal restrictions of their property and inheritance rights. Apart from the obvious violation of the equal right to private property, there’s the fact that such legal restrictions form part of and serve to entrench a wider web of gender discrimination. Furthermore, they can impact women’s economic security and prosperity, their ability to obtain loans and credit, their privacy rights etc.

women's inheritance and property rights

(source, click image to enlarge)

gender equality middle east

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7. Gendercide

Perhaps the most nefarious form of gender discrimination is gendercide. Sex selective abortions, maternal mortality resulting from substandard healthcare systems, violence against women and girls and other forms of gender discrimination combine to create this gendercide: the systematic elimination of females. Evidence of gendercide is the sex-ratio. The human sex ratio should approximately be 1:1. However, the current world wide sex ratio is 107 boys to 100 girls. In many countries, and especially in China and India, there are a lot more men than women. In these, as in other countries there are social and cultural pressures in favor of boys. It’s estimated that there are about 100 million fewer women and girls than there should be.

Sex selective abortions in some of the richer states of Northern India are creating ratios of just 300 girls for every 1000 boys. This phenomenon is most common among richer families, who can afford to find out the sex of their fetus and pay for an abortion. In poorer families, the problem tends to be neglect of girls and sometimes infanticide. It’s against the law in India to tell expectant parents the sex of their fetus, but the law is poorly enforced. In China, the one-child policy is aggravating the effect.

Below are some data about skewed sex ratios. First China:

china sex ratios and one child policy


China sex ratio map



india sex ratios


gendercide india

About 6.2% of potential female births are aborted in India because ultrasound reveals the sex. That’s 480,000/year, which is more than the number of girls born in the UK each year. The estimates suggest that Indian families desire two boys and a girl (source). And things seem to be getting worse, as is evident from the sex ratio:

gendercide in india


worldwide human sex ratio at birth

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8. Dress code

A demanding dress code for women is a common means of enforcing gender inequality:

muslim dress code

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  20. sally-sarnai says

    thank you!!
    I think it`s very useful data!
    and also it was very intersing to know all this stats!

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  23. why don’t you cross all this information by the religious majority in each country?

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  25. ak2891 says

    Thank you for this research ! It is very instructive (even if it is quite depressing to notice that there are such important gaps in so many “developed” countries). A lot of things still have to be done…

  26. The the congressional statistics are totally ridiculous. If women want more female representation, then VOTE FOR MORE WOMEN, duh. Then you say that women do not run. How are they suppossed to win if they don not run, hello. The gender gaps are also not very useful. Men take higher paying jobs, so of course their average is higher.

    • Women aren’t offered higher paying jobs or are not offered the higher paying job at the same rate of pay than the men.. DUH!

    • That is ridiculous. It is not that easy just to vote for women. Women are extremely underrepresented in running for high-level offices. You are ignoring the discrimination that women face in garnering the backing to even run for office.

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  38. Charleen Lynch says

    This has been very useful information for me. I am writing a paper on the link between abortion rates and inequality of women.

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  41. Discrimination against women has become more prevalent. The fact that women are sometimes being under estimated over men. It’s a good thing that justice still prevails when it comes to discrimination in the workplace. There have been lots of issues regarding this that has been raised the past few months. And fortunately, some of the cases that are being raised could get the justice they deserve. By the way, the information you have in here are all informative. Furthermore, I would be glad to visit often for further and informative contents.

    • fabrizzo says

      Not true.Now women can do what heck they like,including dress like a cabaret girl in an office job.If we men dressed like sports enthusiasts,we’d be shown the door for inappropriacy.If u lived in first world nation,i believe u should be seeing it with your own eyes.

      • Jupi says

        Can you cite a real example of women dressing like ‘cabaret girls’ at an office or are you just pulling this out of your ass? Cause that’s the distinct impression I’m getting.

        • fabrizzo says

          They are everywhere.If u cant see it,u are either blind,or sexist,or live in a hole,and not oin modern society.Its in EVERY office i have ever been into.Offices where men dress from head to toe to the cuff of their hands in formal wear,be it young or old.Or are u really so sexist u believe a man covered from head to toe is ‘equal’ to a woman wearing a short sleeveless ‘dress’?Cos thats what im getting,and it tells me u,and many others,are thinking with your ass rather than your heads

  42. Interesting is the graph of the male/female income gaps allegedy being greatest in Korea, followed by Japan, followed by Germany. Gaps are lowest in Poland, New Zealand and Belgium.
    When have you purchased anything “Made in Poland” the last time? Do you buy more “Made in New Zealand” and are goods “Made in Belgium” famous on the world for being high/quality?
    On the other hand: Did the economies of Japan, Korea and Germany suffer very much from the aslleged inequality? I am not a promoter of that inequality although I know that acording to the offcial Federal German Bureau of Census and Statistics ( the 23% difference is the non corrected income gap. If corrected for hours worked, extra hours and work experience a 2% difference remains which cannot be explained further. However the inverse correlation between the non corrected income gap and econonomical success of a country is striking and has to be further researched before being destroyed by “equalists”.

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  45. NZ Sarah says

    Thank you! Best collection of info on the state of play for women and the world.I feel strongly that get the levels of government balanced and we will have a MUCH better world. This all helps as most people have never thought about it.

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  47. rehan says

    Thank you very much for the nice information i suggest its format may be improved in future and plz let me know once you do more work in. Good Luck Regards–Rehan

  48. Odeogbola Ayodele says

    I am writing on behalf of project members of Abeokuta Grammar School who are currently working on a project tagged ‘Genderless Nigeria’. I would like to seek for the permission to use some of graphs for educational purpose.

    Join us as we promote gender advocacy which women are vulnerable to the extreme. Like us on

    Odeogbola A. A.
    Teacher/Project Coordinator

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  51. Wow, the info-graphics are very impressive.
    I’m also thinking about writing about discrimination against women. So far, I have written a blog entry about discrimination against people of color and am still working on other blog entries about other types of discrimination. It’s nice to see someone who cares about the same topic as I do.
    If you have time, check out my first blog entry:


    • fabrizzo says

      All u care about is women.What about we men?In developed nations,we are made to cover head to toe at work,while women are exposing like no one’s business and nobody stops them,let alone fire them,very much let alone harass them.If i did what they did,i’d lose my ricebowl.How’s that for discrimination?

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  55. fabrizzo says

    What happened to the discrimination when women are allowed into the office in a tank top/t shirt,miniskirt and slippers,while men are required to wear long sleeved shirts,long pants and shoes,or its out of the office they go?Why does no one bother mentioning the burden a work dress code puts on men more so than women?And of late the direction of slut shaming has been against the men;while women are accepted for wearing daisy dukes in public,men are being labelled gay for wearing short shorts,forcing almost all of them to wear knee length berms to cover their legs.Why does no onetalk about this sort of inequality in first world nations?Even if im a man who is resilient enough to stand against slut shaming,i cannot defy the corporate dress code and wear what i desire,ie short sleeved shirt,shortpants and shoes,to work,or i’ll be fired,just for wearing short pants instead of long pants alone,no matter how well tailored my shorts are.Why can women tramp the office in their minis and slippers,enjoy the comfort in hot weather,and still be paid the same?Why isnt anybody speaking for the men?

    • Nathan says

      you are wrong on so many levels. The only one I’m going to mention is the most important, that you say, “paid the same,” because that’s not true.

      • fabrizzo says

        You only know how to say im wrong,but not an once of why im wrong,or what these ‘levels’ are.Do u take me for an idiot to believe what u say without proof?Just a typical mangina who believes everything voyeuristic feminists claim is the fact of the day.You know damned well im right about women being allowed all sorts of revealing attire men are forbidden from,and u do nothing to speak against it.As for the illusionary wage gap u speak of,i see none,at least where i come from,and where i come from follows the standards of most developed nations,so u can stop trying to negate the fact of my experience from the fact of the world.
        Self acclaimed feminists are so arrogant that their mangina lackeys are often also so full of themselves thinking whatever their mistresses tell them are the holy truth,and refuse to believe otherwise despite all facts poiting towards it,to the point of refusing to see with their own eyes what is really happening.For the record,i have conversed with real feminists,the official ones from unifem,and they do not endorse most of what these self acclaimed feminists say.Plus they do acknowledge men are on the losing end when it comes to clothing choices and social stereotypes.

      • fabrizzo says

        The very fact that right from the beginning skirts only need be knee length to be considered formal,while pants need to be full length to be considered formal,is already a clear sign of slutshaming towards the men.Now its made even worse by miniskirts being accepted,hence the only leg(and often arm) exposure u see come from the women
        The problem doesnt just lie in men being denied the skirt or dress option,even for pants men are expected to keep it proper and full length,while women get to experiment with tights and various degrees of cropping.The fact is,men are just being ostracised against having any freedom of choice,because modern day activism is only fanatic about promoting choices for women,of course also fueled by fashion industry’s favoring of women.

  56. Jupi says

    tramp the office? I suppose you aren’t resilient enough to stand against slut shaming if you are going to slut shame people for wearing skirts. Honestly thought, if you really need to wear a skirt, talk to your employer. Maybe you can work something out.

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  58. Disabilityrights says

    Discrimination to poor females in the USA is pervasive. The medical arena grossly allows discrimination that blocks acces to nrrded diagnsostics, diagnoses, care as females are emo mentally abused, as gross libel in medical records that show that poor females are not treated as consumers, but degraded. By federal law and funding, state Disability Rights are supposed to legally fight for ones discriminated, yet are not. Lawyers refuse case, no agency assists. Legal aid does not help, and even.their list of help that they say is most needed in.poor, is discriminating, as ignores the biggest needs, disceimination in medical and economic rights. The fact that mix use zoning was taken away in most USA areas, does not allow the poor, disabled, single parents, veterans, disabled work from home, as directly creates plight and dangerous areas with bo jobs, except a few low pay, such as corporate Walmart and insustrial work.
    One comment below, states females can dress gow they want. NOT if they want to try to be safe. In real time, females are dressing down, as males, and even changing their gait, to try to walk thru their neighborhoods safely, to get to the bus, walk kids to school, etc. The overall assumption that poor female means not educated is another false bias. There are many females, physically disabled that worked top jobs, have college degrees, etc. Really, the fact that females voices in poverty are forever ignored and bot given a platform, diminishes greatly how bad it is in the USA, how discriminatory, how dehumanizing, esp in medical, and how many routes to get out are obstacled with inequality barriers.

  59. fabrizzo says

    Dishearteningly,I’ve seen so many people here turn a blind eye,or pretend they dont know it happened,about the discrimination and inequality faced by men.How can u deny something that is right before your eyes,that u see everyday,that are hardwritten in the rules and social enforcings?Unless,as ive mentioned,it is so hardwired that u actually allow such extreme unequals to be ‘viewed’ as equals?If that is so,then i know why inequality can never be addressed,and u should too.How can equality be achieved,when those who claim they fight for it,commit inequality in terms of perception and concept?

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