7 invaluable things to know about… Gender Equality
1. Women are still not treated equally
- Women earn 77 cents for every dollar that men receive.
- Only 52% of women in marriages and other unions make their own decisions about sexual relations, contraceptive use and health care.
- 35% of women have experienced physical or sexual violence.
- 49 countries currently have no laws protecting women from domestic violence.
- Almost 750 million women alive today were married before they turned 18.
- In 18 countries, husbands can legally prevent their wives from working.
2. A rite of passage? Or a recognised human rights violation…?
Female genital mutilation (FGM) has been recognised internationally as a violation of human rights. However, it is still practiced in 30 countries, and it is estimated that 200 million women worldwide have been cut. FGM is defined by the World Health Organization as the "partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons." In extreme cases, the vaginal opening is surgically narrowed. There is a risk of excess bleeding, infection (including HIV), complications in childbirth, infertility and death. In eight countries, almost all girls are subject to some form of FGM: Somalia 98%, Guinea 96%, Djibouti 93%, Egypt 91%, Eritrea 89%, Mali 89%, Sierra Leone 88%, and Sudan 88%. The incidence of FGM has declined by 30% in the past decade, but there is still a long way to go.
3. Empowering women and girls is a win-win
It has been shown time and time again that empowering women helps their community exponentially by bringing increased affluence to their families and helping to drive economic growth.
4. The progress we should celebrate
More girls are now in school compared to 15 years ago. Two thirds of developing countries have achieved gender equality in primary education. And women now make up around 41% of paid workers outside of agriculture, an improvement on 1990 figures of 35%.
5. Some countries are doing better than others...
…and they may not be the ones you’d expect. A new report from the World Bank looks at gender equality through milestones in a woman’s life – from starting a job to getting a pension. Of 187 countries surveyed, only six received perfect scores: Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, Sweden, and Latvia.
6. African Girls Can CODE
According to data from the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Africa has the widest digital gender gap, with only 18.6% of women using the internet (versus 24.9% of men). Last year, the ITU, UN Women and the African Union Commission (AUC) got together to create African Girls Can CODE. The four-year initiative encourages girls across the continent to become digitally literate. More than 2,000 girls will attend coding camps, setting them up for careers in information and communications technology.
7.Confronting child marriage through peer pressure
In rural India, women are using social pressure to stop child marriage. Thanks to an organisation called Women Peer Groups, more than 2,800 rural women and girls across five states have pledged that they won’t let their daughters marry underage, and to boycott weddings that involve child brides. One such activist is 20-year-old Malti Tudu from the village of Simalbari in Bitar. In her caste and tribe, 74.1% of girls marry before the age of 18. But that’s something she wants to stop. To this end, she recently petitioned the parents of a 16-year-old girl whose marriage was being arranged. When the parents resisted her request, she asked everyone she knew in the village not to attend the wedding. The social pressure worked – and the girl was allowed to continue her studies.