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9 in 10 of all people hold bias against women

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Nearly 90 per cent of the world's population - of every gender - holds some prejudice against women, according to a UN study published Wednesday, ahead of International Women's Day.

[UNITED NATIONS, United States] Nearly 90 per cent of the world's population - of every gender - holds some prejudice against women, according to a UN study published Wednesday, ahead of International Women's Day.

The United Nations Development Programme studied 75 countries representing 80 per cent of the world's population and found that nine in 10 people - including women - hold such beliefs.

The prejudiced views include: that men are better politicians and business leaders than women; that going to university is more important for men than women; and that men should get preferential treatment in competitive job markets.

The percentage of those holding at least one sexist bias was largest in Pakistan - where 99.81 per cent of people held similar prejudices - followed by Qatar and Nigeria, both at 99.73 per cent.

Countries with the lowest population of those with sexist beliefs were Andorra, at 27.01 per cent, Sweden with 30.01 per cent and the Netherlands, 39.75 per cent.

France, Britain and the United States each came in with similar scores, 56 per cent, 54.6 per cent and 57.31 per cent of people respectively holding at least one sexist belief.

The numbers show "new clues to the invisible barriers women face in achieving equality" despite "decades of progress," the UN Development Programme said in a statement accompanying the report.

"The work that has been so effective in ensuring an end to gaps in health or education must now evolve to address something far more challenging: a deeply ingrained bias - among both men and women - against genuine equality," UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said.

The agency called on governments and institutions to change discriminatory beliefs and practices through education.

Beyond inequalities in education, health and the economy, the statement also called out one of the report's most chilling findings: 28 per cent of people believe it is okay for a man to beat his wife.

AFP