Missing Target: Challenging gender inequality | Plan International Skip to main content
The missing target - changing beliefs and behaviours to deliver gender equality - report cover

The missing target


The Missing Target: Changing beliefs and behaviours to deliver gender equality

Gender inequality is a barrier to both social cohesion and economic prosperity. Despite some progress over the years, there has been no real shift in power which - at home, in the workplace and in public life - lies firmly in male hands. 

Closing the gender gap - infographic

Tackling gender inequality

Global efforts to tackle gender inequality have traditionally focused on improving policies and laws, and increasing the participation of girls and women in sectors like education, health and employment. However, disparity between men and women has in fact widened. Non-discriminatory laws and policies and gender parity in specific sectors are clearly not enough. 


All over the world gender norms, which are shaped by society‚Äôs beliefs and perceptions, define what it means to be a girl, boy, woman or man, and set limits for what is considered appropriate behaviour and actions. These entrenched attitudes interact with policies, laws and specific sector initiatives, and limit their effectiveness. 

This paper examines the impact of gender inequality across three key sectors (the digital economy, food security and agriculture, education and work) that are vital to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, to show not only the impact of these harmful beliefs and stereotypes but how far reaching they are across all sectors. 

Smashing stereotypes

This report argues that to bring about real change we must look outside the workplace and beyond laws and policies, to address the root causes of gender equality. We must focus on how and where discrimination and stereotyping hold women and girls back.