The world's women - inching slowly, unevenly toward equality
The lives of women and girls around the world have improved in several areas over the last 20 years but they continue to be discriminated against, subjected to violence, denied equal opportunities in education and employment, and excluded from positions of leadership and decision-making.
Coming on the heels of the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals, the report Progress of the World’s Women 2015-2016 brings into sharp perspective the need for gender equality outlined in Goal 5, which aims to empower all women and girls by 2030.
According to the report, prepared by the Statistics Division of the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs, women live longer lives, benefit from better access to education and are more independent than they were fifteen years ago. Worldwide, the number of maternal deaths declined by 45 per cent between 1990 and 2013. Although the vast majority of the world’s youth is currently literate, nearly two thirds of the world’s illiterate adults are women, a proportion unchanged for the last 20 years.
The study finds that over one third of women worldwide have been a victim of physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lives. Attitudes towards violence are reportedly beginning to change as both men and women see violence against women less acceptable – but 60 per cent of all women victims of violence still do not report it or seek any help.
Child marriage continues to be a critical issue in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. However, there has been a slight decline from 31 per cent in 1995 to 26 per cent in 2010.
Women’s economic vulnerability becomes even more visible among lone mothers with children. One-parent household are increasingly common globally, both in developing and developed countries Lone mothers with children constitute about 75 per cent of all one-parent households and suffer higher poverty rates.