Facts and statistics on gender inequality

Violence against women and girls
Women and work
Women’s representation

Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG)

Prevalence of violence against women in the UK

  • On average two women a week are killed by a violent partner or ex-partner in the UK. [1]
  • Black and minority ethnic (BME) and migrant women experience a disproportionate rate of domestic homicide.[2]
  • Up to 3 million women and girls across the UK experience rape, domestic violence, stalking, or other violence each year.[3]
  • In 2011 the Forced Marriage Unit advised over 1,450 people related to a possible forced marriage, 78% of whom were women and girls.[4]
  • An estimated 66,000 women in England and Wales in 2001 had been subject to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and at least 24,000 girls were at risk of FGM in 2007.[5]
  • Almost 1 in 3 girls have experienced unwanted sexual touching at school.[6]
  • The economic cost to society and the emotional cost to victims of VAWG is estimated to exceed £40 billion a year in the UK. This includes costs to health and social services, the criminal justice system, lost economic outputs and monetary proxies for human and emotional costs.[7]

Attitudes towards VAWG

  • 36% of people believe that a woman should be held wholly or partly responsible for being sexually assaulted or raped if she was drunk and 26% believe this if she was in public wearing sexy or revealing clothes.[8]
  • 1 in 5 people think it would be acceptable in certain circumstances for a man to hit or slap his female partner in response to her being dressed in sexy or revealing clothing in public.[9]
  • Only 77% of young men agree that having sex with someone who has said no is rape.[10]

The impact of austerity on VAWG

A 2012 report [11] on the impact of cuts on VAWG services finds that:

  • 31% of the funding to VAWG services from local authorities was cut between 2010/11 and 2011/12. Vital VAWG services are taking a disproportionate hit of the 27% overall cut to local authority budgets.
  • Imkaan, a ‘second-tier’ [12] membership organisation for frontline VAWG services for Black, minority ethnic and refugee (BMER) women, report that in one local authority area, two of five specialist BMER refuges have closed due to funding cuts.
  • 230 women, almost 9% of those seeking refuge, were turned away by Women’s Aid on a typical day in 2011 due to lack of space.
  • Smaller organisations are being hit harder: the average cut for organisations with local authority funding of less than £20,000 was 70%, compared with 29% for those receiving over £100,000.
  • Budget cuts between 2010 and 2011 meant that 78% of services working to reform male perpetrators of domestic violence run by RESPECT reduced the number of clients they were able to assist.

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Women and work

Pay gap

  • The full time gender pay gap is 10%[13] , and the average part-time pay gap is 34.5%.[14]
  • It is estimated that for each year a mother is absent from the workplace her future wages will reduce by 5%.[15]
  • Approximately 70% of people in national minimum wage jobs are women.[16]
  • 54% of women working part-time have been found to be ‘employed below their potential’, which amounts to 2.8 million women.[17]

Discrimination at work

  • Women make up only 17% board directors of FTSE 100 companies.[18]
  • A study by the Fawcett Society found that 51% of women and men from middle management to director level identify stereotyping as the major hurdle facing women at work.[19]
  • Up to 30,000 women are sacked each year simply for being pregnant [20] and each year an estimated 440,000 women lose out on pay or promotion as a result of pregnancy.[21]
  • 14% of White British women have been asked about their plans for marriage and/or children at a job interview compared to 20-25% of Black Caribbean, Bangladeshi and Pakistani women.[22]
  • 26% of trade union branches have received enquiries from members who have been exposed to the sex industry – including pornography – at work.[23]
  • It is estimated that the UK would gain up to £23 billion (the equivalent to 2% of GDP) by better harnessing women’s skills in employment.[24]

Unpaid work

  • At least 75% of mothers have primary responsibility for childcare in the home.[25]
  • Women who work, with or without children, spend 15 hours a week on average doing chores, while men spend only five.[26]
  • More women than men work part-time after having children: 38% of women with dependent children and only 7% of men with dependent children work part-time.[27]
  • There is a large discrepancy in leave entitlements between mothers and their partners: mothers can take 39 weeks of paid maternity leave whilst fathers/partners can only take 2 weeks of paid leave.


  • Childcare costs in the UK are the highest in the EU and families pay on average 26.6% of their income on childcare fees, compared to an OECD average of 11.8%.[28]
  • Unmet demand for formal childcare at atypical times is substantial: in one survey, 67% of parents working atypical hours struggled to find childcare to meet their needs.[29]

Impact of austerity on women’s employment

  • Cuts to public sector jobs affect women disproportionately because women make up two thirds of the workforce.
  • Women’s unemployment is a 24 year high[30]  and unemployment is highest amongst Black and minority ethnic women.[31]
  • Cuts to benefits disproportionately affect women as benefits typically make up a fifth of women’s incomes, as opposed to a tenth of men’s.[32]
  • A survey of over 2,000 working mums found that over half said they will be forced to stop work or significantly reduce their working hours as a result of the cut to support for childcare costs.[33]

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Women’s representation


  • Only 1 in 4 MPs is a woman and women from minority ethnic groups make up only 1.2% of MPs yet comprise 4% of the UK population.[34]
  • Women are outnumbered 5 to1 by men in the cabinet only 16% of senior ministerial posts are held by women.[35]
  • The UK is ranked joint 58th in the world with regards to the number of women in national parliaments.[36]
  • Just 34.7% of senior civil servants are women.[37]
  • Locally, just 35% of elected councillors are women and only 13% of local authority council leaders are women.[38]
  • At the current rate of progress we would have to wait more than 150 years before seeing an equal number of women and men elected to English local councils.[39]
  • The Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly do better than Westminster on women’s representation with Scotland at 35% and in Wales at 40% but both have seen declines since initially established.[40]
  • A poll of 2,408 women found that less than a third (30%) say that they take an interest in politics, compared with around half of men (47%). Yet 44% of women in the poll stated that Britain would be a better place to live if women were more represented in the corridors of Westminster.[41]
  • Current percentages of women MPs by party are: Conservatives: 16%; Labour: 31%; Liberal Democrats: 12%.[42]


  • Just 23% of reporters on national daily newspapers in the UK are women with only 1 female editor of a national daily.[43]
  • Only 24% of news subjects (the people in the news) across global news channels are female and only 6% of stories highlight issues of gender equality or inequality.[44]
  • Women are under-represented in the creation of news. Only 22.6% of reporters on national daily newspapers in the UK being women.[45]
  • Women reporters are more likely to report women as the subjects of their stories than are men and are more likely to challenge, and less likely to reinforce, stereotypes in their reports than male reporters.[46]
  • 46% of global news content reinforces gender stereotypes, almost eight times higher than stories that challenge such stereotypes (6%).[47]
  • Research on UK media found that men typically outnumber women as ‘experts’ by 4:1 on major TV and radio programmes across channels.[48]
  • 50% of women in survey of 327 reported experience of sex discrimination in the last 5 years and 23% had experienced sexual harassment in that period.[49]


  • Women make up 17.3% of FTSE 100 board directors.[50]
  • The Equalities and Human Rights Commission estimates it will take 70 years at the current rate of progress to see an equal number of female and male directors of FTSE 100 companies.[51]
  • Approximately 70% of people in national minimum wage jobs are women.[52]
  • Women occupy on average 30.9% of ‘top jobs’ across 11 sectors.[53]
  • Using boardroom quotas, Norway increased women’s representation on company boards from 6% in 2002 to 44% in 2010. During that same period European board representation only rose from 2% to 9.7%.[54]
  • Membership of Britain’s largest public sector union, Unison, is 80% women. However, only 28% of the working population is unionised and this is less than 20% in the private sector.[55]

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  1. Department of Health (2005) Responding to domestic abuse (London: DH)
  2. Southall Black Sisters and End Violence Against Women Coalition (2011) op cit.
  3. Coy, M., Lovett, J. and Kelly, L., (2009) Realising Rights, Fulfilling Obligations: A Template for an Integrated Strategy on Violence Against Women for the UK, End Violence Against Women Coalition. Available at
  4. Forced Marriage Unit (2012) ‘Forced Marriage’ [webpage], available at
  5. FORWARD (2007) A Statistical Study to Estimate the Prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation in England and WalesP27, P25
  6. YouGov Ltd (2010) End Violence Against Women Poll Results. Available at
  7. This study used proxies for the ‘human and emotional’ costs based on ‘willingness-to-pay’ experiments and the authors note that the total figure is a minimum estimate because some of the costs used in the calculations relate to England and Wales only. New Philanthropy Capital (2008) A Hard Knock Life, p11. Available at
  8. Figures relate to England and Wales only. Home Office (2009) Violence against women opinion polling. Available at
  9. Ibid.
  10. Opinion Matters (2010) ‘Where Is Your Line?’ Survey Summary Report.The Havens – Sexual Assault Referral Centres. Available at
  11. Towers, J and Walby, S. (2012) Measuring the impact of cuts in public expenditure on the provision of services to prevent violence against women and girls.  Lancaster University Report for Northern Rock Foundation and Trust for London. Available at
  12. A ‘second tier’ or ‘umbrella’ organisation is one which supports frontline voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations.
  13. King, Mark (2012, 22 November) ‘Gender pay gap falls for full-time workers’ The Guardian.
  14. EHRC (2011) Gender pay gaps , p3.
  15. Gentleman, Amelia (2009, 10 July) ‘Motherhood ‘devastates’ women’s pay, research finds’, The Guardian. Available at
  16. Low Pay Commission (2007) National Minimum Wage Low Pay Commission Report 2007, Figure 2.8, p32.
  17. TUC (2008) Closing the Gender Pay Gap, p20. Available at
  18. Lord Davies of Abersoch (2011) Women on boards, p3.
  19. Rake, Katherine and Lewis, Rowena (2009) Just Below the Surface: gender stereotyping, the silent barrier to equality in the modern workplace?, p2.
  20. Equal Opportunities Commission (2005) Greater Expectations: Final Report of EOC investigation into discrimination against new and expectant mothers in the workplace,
  21. Fawcett Society (2009) Not having it all: How motherhood reduces women’s pay and employment prospects, p9.
  22. Rake, Katherine and Lewis, Rowena (2009) Just Below the Surface: gender stereotyping, the silent barrier to equality in the modern workplace?, p5.
  23. Fawcett Society (2009) Corporate Sexism: The sex industry’s infiltration of the modern workplace.
  24. Fawcett Society (2008) Breaking the Mould for Women Leaders – could boardroom quotas hold the key? p11.
  25. Family and Parenting Institute, ‘Quick Facts from Family Trends’ [webpage]. Available at
  26. Durrant, Sabine (2009, 11 Feb) ‘The chore wars’, The Guardian. ; BBC News (2007, 23 Feb) ‘Single Women do less housework’.
  27. Family and Parenting Institute, ‘Quick Facts from Family Trends’ [webpage] ; Resolution Foundation (2012) The price of motherhood: women and part-time work, p5.
  28. Rogers, Simon (2012, 21 May) ‘Child care costs: how the UK compares with the world’, The Guardian.
  29. Daycare Trust (2011) Open All Hours? Flexible childcare in the 24/7 era.
  30. Fawcett Society (2012) ‘Fawcett’s response to the Autumn Statement 2012’
  31. All Party Parliamentary Group on Race and Community (2012) Ethnic Minority Female Unemployment: Black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi Heritage Women, p4.
  32. Ibid.
  33. Resolution Foundation and Netmums (2011) Childcare Tax Credit Survey.
  34. Fawcett Society (2010) What about Women? p13.
  35. The Democratic Audit of the United Kingdom (2012) ‘3.2.3 Women in Political Life’ [webpage].
  36. Figure as of September 2012: Women in national parliaments [webpage].
  37. Holt, Gerry (2012, 29 ‘May) Women hold fewer than third of top jobs – BBC research’ [webpage]
  38. Fawcett Society, ‘Facts and stats on women and power’ [webpage].
  39. The Centre for Women & Democracy (2011) Representative Democracy? Women in the 2011 Local Government Elections in England.
  40. Electoral Reform Society (2011) Women’s Representation in Scotland and Wales, p3.
  41. Barnett, Emma (2012, 15 Oct) ‘Majority of British women say Government doesn’t represent them’, The Telegraph.
  42. Fawcett Society (2010) What About Women, p13.
  43. Sedghi, Ami & Cochrane, Kira (2011, 6 Dec) ‘Women’s representation in media: who’s running the show?’, The Guardian [blog].; Martinson, Jane (2012, 31 May) Why are there so few female national newspaper editors? The Guardian [blog],
  44. Global Media Monitoring Project (2010) Who Makes the News? Highlights, p3.
  45. Sedghi, Ami & Cochrane, Kira (2011, 6 Dec) ‘Women’s representation in media: who’s running the show?’, The Guardian [blog].
  46. Global Media Monitoring Project (2010) Who Makes the News? Highlights, p3.
  47. The Global Media Monitoring Project (2010) Who Makes the News? Highlights.
  48. Martinson, Jane (2012, 6 Mar) ‘Channel 4 and Sky News sign the equality pledge – but what about the BBC?’, The Guardian.
  49. WFTV (2012) ‘WFTV Member Survey on Sex Discrimination and Sexual Harassment: Results Revealed at BAFTA Debate on Sexism’ [webpage].
  50. Figure as of November 2012, Professional Boards Forum.
  51. Equality and Human Rights Commission (2011) Sex and Power, p3.
  52. Low Pay Commission (2007) National Minimum Wage Low Pay Commission Report 2007, Figure 2.8, p32.
  53. Holt, Gerry (2012, 29 May) ‘Women hold fewer than third of top jobs – BBC research’, BBC News [online]
  54. Fawcett Society (2008) Breaking the Mould for Women Leaders – could boardroom quotas hold the key? p6.
  55. Roberts, Yvonne (2012, 5 Aug) ‘The women changing Britain’s unions’, The Observer.