9 in 10 of all people hold bias against women

Nearly 90 percent of the world's population hold a sexist belief, such as that men make better politicians than women, according to a UN report

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

The United Nations Development Programme studied 75 countries representing 80 percent 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 percent of people held similar prejudices -- followed by Qatar and Nigeria, both at 99.73 percent.

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

France, Britain and the United States each came in with similar scores, 56 percent, 54.6 percent and 57.31 percent 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 percent of people believe it is okay for a man to beat his wife.