Women’s rights: 25 years of progress? Or not?

Singing at the International Womens Day Event at OPSEU
Thunder Bay Women’s Action Network event for International Women's Day

Despite progress in some areas, equality remains a long way off, with millions of girls and women affected by poverty, violence and discrimination

By Emma Batha

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – World leaders promised 25 years ago to empower girls and women and work towards ending discrimination following a landmark gender equality meeting in Beijing.

From getting more girls into school to reducing deaths in childbirth, improvements have been made. But equality remains a long way off, with millions of girls and women’s lives still scarred by discrimination, poverty and violence.

In Focus: International Women’s Day

As the world marks International Women’s Day, here is a snapshot of progress since the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action, the most progressive blueprint for advancing women’s rights.

* 25% of seats in national parliaments are held by women – more than double the 11% share in 1995.

* In the last decade, 131 countries have enacted legal and regulatory reforms in support of gender equality.

* The number of girls out of primary school has halved from 65 million to 32 million.

* Two-thirds of secondary school age girls are enrolled in school, up from half – although not all finish.

* 90% of girls aged 15 to 24 are literate, up from 80%.

* The number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births fell 38% between 2000 and 2017.

* About 50 countries have liberalised their abortion laws in the last 25 years, with 18 lifting outright bans.

* Child marriage affects one in five girls today, down from one in four in 1995.

* 34% of girls aged 15 to 19 have undergone FGM in the 31 countries where there is U.N. data, down from 47% in 1995.

* The adolescent birthrate has fallen from 60 to 44 births per 1,000 girls.

* Girls born today can expect to live nearly eight more years than girls born in 1995 (an average of 75.2 years).


* Men hold 75% of parliamentary seats worldwide and 73% of managerial positions.

* Women on average do three times more unpaid care and domestic work than men, limiting access to other opportunities.

* Women are paid 16% less than men on average, rising to 35% in some countries.

* Globally, 62% of women aged 25 to 54 are in the labour force compared to 93% of men – broadly unchanged since 1995.

* Nearly one in five women has faced violence from an intimate partner in the last year.

* At least 60% of countries still discriminate against daughters’ rights to inherit land and other assets in either law or practice.

* Nearly one in four girls aged 15–19 is neither employed, in education or training, compared to one in 10 boys.

* Each year, 12 million girls are married in childhood, and four million are at risk of FGM.

* 970,000 adolescent girls live with HIV compared to 740,000 in 1995. Girls account for nearly three in four new infections among adolescents.

Sources: UN Women, UNICEF, Center for Reproductive Rights

(Reporting by Emma Batha @emmabatha; Editing by Claire Cozens. Credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation)

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