Despite Progress, Women and Girls Remain the Majority of the World’s Unhealthy, Unfed, and Unpaid

April 8, 2015

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently partnered with the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation to create the No Ceilings:The Full Participation Project, which conducts research and summarizes trends on the status of women over the last 20 years, as well as advocates for closing the gender gap

In an effort to highlight the progress and setbacks made in keys areas of women’s rights, the No Ceilings initiative recently published an in-depth report of its findings. While there have been many improvements in gender equality, the report says there is still much more that needs to be done.

In addition to the report, the initiative has also produced an interactive map on the progress of women and gender disparities, published a collection of stories of the struggles and successes of women around the world, and created an online action center that promotes further advocacy for the improved status of women.

According to the report, many improvements regarding the status of women have been made since the 1995 World Conference on Women in Beijing–which called for full and equal participation of women in all aspects of life–but the the global community is still far from achieving the gender parity laid out in Beijing.

Some of the most important findings of the No Ceilings initiative pertain to areas of legal rights, health, education, violence, and leadership:

Legal rights: No Ceilings has found that more than four out of five constitutions have some mechanism to guarantee gender equality. However, more than 150 countries lack protections critical to ensuring women’s economic participation.

Health: The maternal mortality rate and under-5 mortality rate for girls has fallen by nearly half in the last 20 years. However, women and girls in certain regions and communities confront high rates of HIV, poor care during pregnancy and childbirth and limited access to family planning. Every day, 800 women die from largely preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth and 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries.

Education: Girls and boys enroll in primary school at nearly equal rates worldwide. However, in poor, rural, minority, and conflict-affected areas, girls are significantly less likely to be educated. In addition, almost two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults are women.

Violence: By 2013, 76 of 100 countries had passed legislation outlawing domestic violence. However, 62 of the 100 countries studied had no specific laws or provisions explicitly criminalizing marital rape and sexual assault within marriage. Living in a fragile or conflict-affected state increased the likelihood that a woman will experience intimate partner violence by one-third and, although legal protections against child marriage have increased, significant loopholes remain leaving 1 in 4 girls to be married before their 18th birthday.

Leadership and the Workplace: Almost twice as many women hold political office today compared with 20 years ago. However, fewer than 10% of peace negotiators are women, women in almost every country earn less than men, and women still do the vast majority of domestic and unpaid work (such as housekeeping and caring for children, the sick, and the elderly to household food production).

Empowering women has been a key objective of the The Hunger Project since our establishment in 1977. We believe that in order to create a sustainable end to hunger and extreme poverty, we must start with women. Women with equal rights and equal access to education are healthier and have greater access to land, jobs, financial resources and leadership positions. This, in turn, improves the prospects and well-being of their children, reducing poverty of future generations.

The Hunger Project promotes the empowerment of women through training sessions and workshops that teach women keys skills and help them to gain leadership positions and become agents of their own change. We also provide loans to help women start and improve their businesses. Through these programs, The Hunger Project helps women establish themselves and become equally engaged and valued members of their communities.

 

Learn More:

Read the No Ceilings Full Participation Report
Explore the No Ceilings interactive map
Read more about The Hunger Project’s efforts to empower women and girls