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Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI)

GS Paper 1

 Syllabus: Role of Women


Source: UNDP

 Context: The UNDP’s Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI) 2023 has revealed no improvement in biases against women in a decade, with almost 9 out of 10 men and women worldwide still holding such biases.


What is the GSNI?

  • First introduced in the 2019 Human Development Report, GSNI provides an in-depth account of the root causes of gender inequality that hinder progress for women and girls.
  • It covers 4 key dimensions – political, educational, economic and physical integrity – to highlight areas where women and girls face systematic disadvantages and discrimination.


Highlights of the GSNI 2023:

  • Half of people worldwide still believe men make better political leaders than women.
  • Over 40% believe men make better business executives than women.
  • A staggering 25% of people believe it is justified for a man to beat his wife.
  • The share of women as heads of state or heads of government has remained around 10% since 1995.
  • In the labour market, women occupy less than a third of managerial positions.
  • A broken link between women’s progress in education and economic empowerment.
    • For example, women are more skilled and educated than ever before, yet the average gender income gap remains a staggering 39% in favour of men.


Impact of these biases:

  • Drive hurdles faced by women manifested in a dismantling of women’s rights, and a surge of human rights violations.
  • As a result, movements against gender equality are gaining traction in many parts of the world.
  • Severe underrepresentation of women in leadership.


Way ahead:

  • Governments have a crucial role in shifting gender social norms. For instance,
    • Parental leave policies have changed perceptions around care work responsibilities, and
    • Labour market reforms led to a change in beliefs around the employment of women.
  • Directly addressing social norms through education to change people’s views and more representation of women in decision-making and political processes.
  • An important place to start is recognising the economic value of unpaid care work, as women spend over six times as much time as men on unpaid care work.
  • The focus needs to be on expanding human development through –
    • Investment in laws and policy measures that promote women’s equality in political participation.
    • Insurance such as strengthening social protection and care systems.
    • Innovation, for example, combating online hate speech and gender disinformation can help to shift pervasive gender norms towards greater acceptance and equality.



Gender bias is a pervasive problem worldwide. Therefore, without tackling biased gender social norms, gender equality as reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can’t be achieved.


Insta Links:

Gender Equality in India


Mains Links:

What are the continued challenges for women in India against time and space? (UPSC 2019)