IMG_2345We celebrate International Women’s Day today by reporting that nearly 90 percent of men and women around the world believe in equal opportunities for men and women.

A recent survey of over 17,000 adults in 23 major countries by the research firm Ipsos shows that 88 percent say they believe in equal opportunities for men and women.

North America leads all regions with 93 percent of adults believing in gender equality. Somewhat surprising, Latin America – a region known for a healthy dose of machismo – is in second place, with 91 percent believing that equal opportunities exist for both men and women. A further surprise shows the Middle East/Africa region ahead of Europe, 89 percent to 88 percent. The lowest scoring region was Asia/Pacific with a lower than average 84 percent saying they believe in equal opportunities for men and women.

However – and a big however – the survey shows that despite a large majority believing in equal treatment for men and women, women don’t always experience it. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of all those surveyed agree that there is currently inequality between women and men in terms of social, political and/or economic rights.

Ipsos says that 76 percent of women and 69 percent of men think there is inequality between men and women. The highest level of dissatisfaction is in Sweden, where 88 percent believe inequality exists. Mexico is not far behind, with 82 percent in agreement. Other top 10 countries that think inequality exists are, in descending order, South Korea (81 percent), Turkey (81 percent), Peru (81 percent), Brazil (80 percent), India (78 percent), South Africa (78 percent), France (77 percent) and Spain (77 percent).

International Women’s Day is celebrated each March 8th. Originally called International Working Women’s Day, the event started as a Socialist political event, but has become a celebration of women’s economic, political and social achievements in many countries. The first global meeting was held as the International Women’s Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark in August, 1910.