"Empowering women isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s the smart thing to do. When women succeed, nations are more safe, more secure, and more prosperous."
It seems that there's more online than this year than in previous years...from a beautiful photo series called "Well-behaved women rarely make history" in an Australian online news magazine, to an article in the HuffPost about "7 easy ways to make an impact on International Women's Day," "Can men be feminists" in another Australian news mag, and a crowd-sourcing opportunity to write a woman's story (sponsored by Half the Sky authors Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn). Kristof and WuDunn have also created a Half the Sky game you can play on Facebook, to raise awareness of the plight of women in developing countries. I'm glad that more attention is being paid to the serious plight of women in the world.
And these are some of the reasons why we need to keep the focus on women:
- Women constitute the majority of HIV-positive adults in sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Middle East.
- Two thirds of the 774 million adult illiterates worldwide are women – the same proportion for the past 20 years and across most regions.
- 72 million children of primary school age are not attending school, out of which over 39 million (or 54 percent) are girls.
- Worldwide, women account for slightly more than a quarter of all scientific researchers – an increase compared to previous decades but still very far from parity.
- Women spend at least twice as much time as men on domestic work, and when all work – paid and unpaid – is considered, women work longer hours than men do.
- Becoming the Head of State or Head of Government remains elusive for women, with only 14 women in the world currently holding either position.
- In just 23 countries do women make up a critical mass – over 30 percent – in the lower or single house of their national parliament.
- Worldwide on average only one in six cabinet ministers is a woman.
- In the private sector, women continue to be severely underrepresented in the top decisionmaking positions.
- Only 13 of the 500 largest corporations in the world have a female chief executive officer.
- Rates of women experiencing physical violence at least once in their lifetime vary from several percent to over 59 percent depending on where they live.
- In many regions of the world longstanding customs put considerable pressure on women to accept abuse.
- More than half of rural households and about a quarter of urban households in sub-Saharan Africa lack easy access to sources of drinking water, and most of the burden of water collection falls on women.
- The majority of households in sub-Saharan Africa and in Southern and South-Eastern Asia use solid fuels for cooking on open fires or traditional stoves with no chimney or hood, disproportionately affecting the health of women.
- Fewer women than men participate in high-level decision-making related to the environment.
- Households of lone mothers with young children are more likely to be poor than households of lone fathers with young children.
- Women are more likely to be poor than men when living in one-person households in many countries from both the more developed and the less developed regions.
- Women are overrepresented among the older poor in the more developed regions.
- Existing statutory and customary laws limit women’s access to land and other types of property in most countries in Africa and about half the countries in Asia.
- Fewer women than men have cash income in the less developed regions, and a significant proportion of married women have no say in how their cash earnings are spent.
- Married women from the less developed regions do not fully participate in intrahousehold decision-making on spending, particularly in African countries and in poorer households.
- A new study by the Center for Disease Control reveals that violence against women continues to be a significant problem in the United States, and some of the troubling findings indicate that sexual violence occurs at a high rate.
- Nearly one in five American women has been raped or experienced an attempted rape. One in four have reported being beaten by their intimate partner. Of the rape victims, 80 percent reported being raped before 25 and nearly half said they were raped before they turned 18.