Gender equality in cultural life in focus of issue 18 of UNESCO Tracker Culture & Public Policy

4 April 2022

No society in the world enjoys full gender equality. Unfortunately, gender disparities in the field of culture frequently reflect inequalities in society at large. Through heritage and the cultural and creative sectors, it is clear that womens status in society politically, legally, socially, economically is still curtailed in much of the world.

Yet, culture has the unique power to tell untold stories, subvert stereotypes, shed light on our collective values and explore different facets of our complex identities as human beings. Intangible cultural heritage the traditions, knowledge, skills and living practices that give meaning to our daily existence is an important tool in forging values and shaping our behaviours, including gender norms, and nurturing social cohesion. Creative expressions such as theatre, music, books, film provide insights into the human experience from the perspectives of all people, in all of their diversity. World Heritage sites and museums are spaces of dialogue about contemporary societal issues, reinterpreting our past with a view to shaping the future.

UNESCO is working to mainstream gender into all its programmes and activities - including in the field of culture - in line with the 22030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Gender Equality has been one of UNESCOs two Global Priorities since 2007, underpinning all of the Organizations actions as guided by the UNESCO Gender Equality Action Plan.

UNESCOs approach to gender equality in the field of culture is based on an upfront commitment to human rights and cultural diversity. The Organizations work on culture focuses on ensuring that women and men equally enjoy the right to access, participate in and contribute to cultural life and thereby to encourage women and men to equally benefit from heritage and creativity. This aim falls within the broad framework of the implementation of the Culture Conventions and their related programmes, which cover the various dimensions of culture, from cultural heritage to living expressions and the cultural industries. To this end, emphasis is placed on: expanding economic and social opportunities, the creative horizons of women and girls; ensuring their access to cultural entrepreneurship and cultural content generation, as well as to decision-making positions; ensuring freedom of expression for all, including with regard to artistic freedom -notably for female artists - irrespective of gender or another social identity; and supporting gender-transformative media development.

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