Gender Equality and Culture

© 2006 by Paulo Anchieta

Gender equality is an important priority for UNESCO’s work on heritage, creativity and cultural diversity. The equal participation, access and contribution to cultural life of women and men are human rights as well as cultural rights, and an important dimension for guaranteeing freedom of expression for all. A growing body of evidence from UNESCO programmes points to how gender relations come into play in the transmission of knowledge on heritage and the fostering of creativity. Indeed, ensuring that the spiritual, intellectual and creative expressions and interests of all members of the community are reflected has proven to be an important enabler of inclusive development and socio-economic empowerment.

Yet, access to culture can often be restricted to certain social groups, with women and girls in particular facing complex barriers to participate in the cultural life of their communities. Unequal opportunities for women to share their creativity with audiences; ‘glass ceiling’ for women to reach management and leadership positions or to participate in decision-making processes; persistence of dominant views on gender, negative stereotypes and limitations on freedom of expression based on gender; and sex-specific challenges related to accessing specialized technical and entrepreneurial training as well as financial resources.   Recognizing these challenges, UNESCO works closely with governments, civil society and communities to ensure that women’s and men’s roles in cultural life are equally encouraged, valued and visible.

UNESCO’s Culture programmes support and empower women and men to equally enjoy, participate in and contribute to culture through:




The 30-month project "Empowering Rural Women in the Jordan Valley" started in July 2013. Funded by Drosos Foundation, the project addresses a group of women living in the south of Jordan and is aiming to provide women with innovative income-generating opportunities by improving its production and promotion of handicrafts.

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The UNESCO Report on Gender Equality and Culture 'Gender Equality, Heritage and Creativity', which calls for deeper debate, research and awareness-raising in support of equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities in heritage and creativity. 

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The IFCD is reinforcing cultural policies related to the publishing sector in Haiti, guaranteeing freedom of expression for minorities and helping to promote a more inclusive and equal society.

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