Miscellaneous - - International

How Changing Social Norms is Crucial in Achieving Gender Equality

13.11.2020 / Created by (EMWF)

Human behaviour is not always a choice. Often it is automatic and unintentional, and rooted in the belief that others expect us to behave in a certain way, particularly when upholding traditions and culture.

This document is a compendium of key articles and writings that examines the social dynamics of normative human behaviours not only through experimental academic routes, but also through the complementary vision and extraordinary insights of entire community and population groups. This is an attempt to contribute to the change of maladaptive human normative behaviours.The social expectations surrounding normative behaviour are a major obstacle for those who might otherwise wish to abandon a discriminatory norm. The main challenge is hidden gender and power dynamics, the socially constructed gender roles that uphold related behaviours, and the obstacles that present for girls’ and women’s acquisition or not of capabilities that lead to the exercise of agency.

The report considers briefly the difficulty of separating “social norms” from “gender ideologies and rules”. This is because (i) gender ideologies and rules are social norms per se, (ii) gender norms affect all other social norms and (iii) almost all other social norms have an impact on the balance of power between males and females.

This document presents some of the most promising strategies for changing social norms and achieving gender equality. A greater understanding of the conceptual background of social norms and norms change provides a schematic – a skeleton outline – for social transformation.


  • Type of publication : Study / Report
  • Author : UNFPA
  • Co-editor : UNFPA-UNICEF
  • Publishing house : United Nations Population Fund
  • Publication date : 2020
  • Number of pages : 66
  • Language : English


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