Friday, March 4, 2011

The Friday List-down: 10 Challenges Women Around the World Still Face


March is Women’s History Month, so this month the Friday List-downs will focus on women. Tuesday is International Women’s Day, which celebrates 100 years this year. The Asia Society has invited prominent feminist Gloria Steinem to participate in a conversation about the challenges women face in Asia. Check on events near you here. There are certainly lots of challenges that women face around the world. Here are some startling facts on women’s place in an increasingly global economy.

  1. Iceland ranks number one in the World Economic Forum’s 2010 survey of the gender gap worldwide, followed closely by Norway, Finland, and Sweden. The survey takes into account various factors, including economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. Yemen comes in last place, preceded by Chad and Pakistan.

  2. Josina Machel of the International Women’s Health Coalition spoke [PDF] at the recent Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights, saying, “Seventy-six percent of people living with HIV and AIDS are women, and one-third of all these women are between the ages of 15 and 24.”

  3. In a recent Guttmacher Institute report [PDF] on women’s health in Ethiopia, they learned 71 percent of Ethiopian women have an unmet need for contraception.

  4. In a comprehensive World Health Organization study published in 2005, between 15 and 71 percent of women experience some combination of physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner over the course of their lifetimes. Women in Japan were the least likely to experience such violence, while women in more “provincial” countries were the most likely to experience intimate partner violence: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Peru, and the United Republic of Tanzania.

  5. The United Nations notes that rape is still used as a weapon in war. A government study of Liberia, which has undergone a 13-year civil war, found that 92 percent of the 1,600 women interviewed had experienced sexual violence.

  6. A study put forth by the John F. Kennedy School of Government [PDF] found that women were more than twice as likely to be elected in countries that used proportional representation, or systems that divide up seats in multi-member districts by the proportion of votes received and distribute them to various parties or groups who choose a list of candidates, than they do under majoritarian electoral systems.

  7. The focus on women’s economic security has led to the idea of micro-lending, small loans given to people in developing countries to start small businesses or help make ends meet offered at low interest rates. The World Bank found that, as of June 2010, women borrowers account for 67 percent of these types of loans [PDF].

  8. According to 2007 Goldman Sachs findings cited by the State Department, closing the gender pay gap could have a significant impact on GDP growth. It could boost the United States GDP by 9 percent, Europe’s by 13 percent, and Japan’s by 16 percent.

  9. As information technology is a growing field in India, so is women’s participation. Women’s participation in the industry grew from 10 percent in 1993 to 35 percent in 2005 [PDF].

  10. Women endured the global economic crisis slightly worse than men. The International Labour Office found that the global unemployment rate for men was 6 percent in their 2011 report [PDF], whereas for women it was 6.5 percent.

Check out last week’s List-down here.

Cross posted.

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