Status of women

Status of women

How can the changing status of women help improve the human condition?

 

Empowerment of women has been one of the strongest drivers of social evolution over the past century and is acknowledged as essential for addressing all the global challenges facing humanity. Women are increasingly equal partners in social, political and economic decision-making, contributing their views and demanding accountability. Gender equality is an irreversible trend; it has entered the global consciousness and is guaranteed by the constitution of 143 countries; old patriarchal structures and barbarian extremist practices are increasingly isolated and unanimously condemned by citizens and authorities around the world. Building on achievements so far and with the post-2015 agenda, achieving gender equality by 2030 might be possible.

 

Status of political and civil rights: Improvements in women’s civil and political rights have been an important catalyst for sustained progress over the past decades. Much progress has been made in the political rights:

 

Short Overview

  • Suffrage is virtually universal
  • Women in parliaments almost doubled over the past two decades. In 2015, women account for 22.1% of the membership of national legislative bodies worldwide, compared to 11.3% in 1995
  • In 43 countries, the rate of women legislators is over 30% and 24 women serve as heads of state and government (as of January 2015)
  • Important organizations such as UNESCO, WHO, and the IMF are headed by women
  • An increasing number of countries and parties have quotas to promote women’s political participation
  • However, 38 states have parliaments with less than 10% women, including six with no women at all, and eight countries with no women in the cabinet.

The Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum found that:

  • Women made up some 40% of the global labor force
  • About 73% of the global job gaps was due to a shortfall of employment among women
  • Employment-to-population ratio was 72% for men, and only 47% for women.

Oxfam remarks that if women’s paid employment rates were the same as men’s, in 15 major developing economies, income per capita would rise by 14% by 2020 and 20% by 2030. Closing the male-female employment gap could boost GDP in the U.S. by 9%, in the euro zone by 13%, and in Japan by 16%.

The Social Institutitons and Gender Index computed by OECD — which considers the root causes of gender inequality, discriminatory laws and social norms — shows that countries with better SIGI scores have close to 50% women participation in paid jobs, while in countries with high discrimination, female employment is just above 20%. The 2014 SIGI found that despite positive steps, discriminatory social structures continue to persist:

  • out of the 111 countries assessed over the past decade, 105 have been making progress in closing the gender gap
  • none of the 142 economies assessed in 2014 has closed the gender gap, with divides persisting across and within regions
  • the gaps for health and educational attainment were closed by 96% and 94% respectively, only 60% of economic participation gap, and 21% of the global political empowerment gap had been closed as of 2014
  • of the 121 countries assessed, 86 still have discriminatory inheritance laws or practices
  • women hold only 15% of land titles
  • 20% of women have no adequate access to family planning
  • violence against women persists.

The Gender Equity Index computed by Social Watch shows that none of the 154 countries assessed has narrowed the gender gap to an “acceptable” level.

Economic empowerment: Gender equity is strongly supported not only by moral rightness, but also by improved living standards. ILO notes that in 2014:

Women make up some 18% of the board of directors of Forbes Global 500 companies in the OECD countries, with ratio varying from 45% in Norway (the highest), to 0.7% in Korea (the lowest). However, this share tends to increase worldwide, as studies show that companies with more women on their boards have better results, given that women tend to have a more cooperative approach to decision-making. Fortune 500 companies with more gender-balanced boards could outperform the others by as much as 50%.

 

Although some 60% of the countries have equal pay laws and much progress has been accomplished in recent years, the gender income gap and the glass ceiling persist around the world:

  • ILO found that out of 65% of global employment assessed in 2014, 24% of women worked in part-time jobs, compared to only 12.4% of men
  • In the OECD countries, if unpaid work is factored in, then women earnings vary between 65% to 40% of male wages -- considering time on unpaid care activities between twice to five times more than men.

ILO estimates that of the 21 million victims of forced labor, 11.4 million are women and girls, and of the almost 19 million victims exploited by private individuals or enterprises, 4.5 million are victims of forced sexual exploitation. Of the estimated 800,000 people trafficked annually over the borders, 82% are women and children. According to some estimates, approximately 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation, and 19% involves labor exploitation.

Almost 50% of the world's working women are in vulnerable employment, often lacking legal and economic protection. Women represent most of domestic workers and caregivers to their families:

Better policies and social structures are needed to help women harmonize the demands of their careers with their family responsibilities. Ensuring their basic employment rights, as well as services such as free (or employer-paid) preschools and child care should be integral parts of strategies to improve the status of women.

Since old structures persist and collective responsibility is generally not yet part of family customs, in most cases women's economic roles are added to her traditional housework. Despite some improvements over the past 50 years, daily and virtually all over the world women spend more time on unpaid work, while men have more leisure time. Studies show that mostly in developed countries, many mothers of young children work by necessity to achieve and maintain a middle-class living standard that demands two incomes. This adds an extra burden on women, not necessarily improving their status.

About 70% of people living in poverty are women, most of them in rural areas. In developing countries, rural women represent approximately 43% of the agricultural labor force. Nevertheless, less than 20% of the landholders are women and they have limited access to inputs, seeds, and agricultural extension services. FAO estimates that the yield gap between men and women farmers is about 20-30%, mainly due to access to resources. The vast majority of micro loans go to poor women whose businesses are often too small to significantly improve their living standards; they need the entrepreneurial talent and business skills to scale up the business to more significantly affect income.Of the 1.6 billion people still lacking access to basic energy services, 70% are women. Closing the rural gender gap could raise agricultural output in developing countries by up to 4%, improving food security and reducing the number of undernourished people by 100–150 million. Since 76% of the extreme poor live in rural areas, it would be one of the most efficient ways to reduce poverty and improve living standards of the many.

Women control about 70% of world consumer spending; and hence, can strongly influence market preferences and culture.

 

Education: The gender gap is almost closed in education, and even reversed in some countries, as girls tend to outperform boys and are more likely to be enrolled in secondary and tertiary education. Some countries, such as Japan and Saudi Arabia, where many women are earning PhDs but are culturally inhibited from becoming senior executives, are likely to experience a "feminine brain drain." However, despite important gains:

  • Oxfam warns that at current rate of progress, in the G20 countries it would take another 75 years to achieve equal pay for equal work.
  • In the OECD countries, although the gender wage gap decreased from 18.2% in 2000 to 15.5% in 2013 for similar full-time jobs, women are about 16% less likely to be in paid work and 40% of them have non-standard jobs (compared to 25% of men).
  • Across OECD, the wage gap for full-time jobs varies from 36.6% in Korea (the highest) to 5.6% in New Zealand (the lowest).
  • ·The Global Gender Gap Index indicates that the gender income gap is between 72% in high-income countries to 64% in lower-middle income ones, with most progress, 5% since 2006, made by the low income countries, that had a 67% gender income gap in 2014.
  • Action Aid has calculated that if employment and wage gaps were closed, women could increase their income globally by some 76%, estimated to a global value of $17 trillion, out of which over $9 trillion in developing countries.
  • Yet 79 countries have laws that restrict the types of jobs that women can do, and in 15 countries husbands can legally prevent their wives from working or accepting jobs.
  • 493 million adult women are illiterate (64% of totalof the 774 million adult illiterates)
  • 31 million girls of primary school age do not attend school
  • At this rate, it would take until 2084 to attain universal education, notes the UN
  • More than 800 million women lack the skills necessary for improving their economic opportunity.

The health gender gap is also closing, but recognizing women's reproductive rights and providing effective family planning are crucial to curb maternal deaths. Women-specific challenges persist:

  • Although worldwide, maternal mortality has been reduced by some 50% since 1990, the world is not meeting the MDG5 of reducing it by 75% by 2015 -- some 120 death per 100,000 live birth.
  • WHO reports that each day, some 800 women die from preventable complications related to pregnancy or childbirth around the world.
  • Most incidents occur in developing countries, where maternal mortality ratio is about 230 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to 16 per 100,000 live births in developed countries.
  • A woman's lifetime risk of maternal death is 1 in 160 in developing countries versus 1 in 3,700 in developed ones, with women living in rural areas at three times higher risk to die while giving birth than in urban centers.
  • An estimated 2 million women are affected by obstetric fistula, and some 50,000-100,000 new cases develop each year.
  • About 10 million women per year suffer from infections, disease, and other injuries during pregnancy.
  • The highest prevalence of childbirth-related incidents is in parts of Africa and Asia due to high fertility rates and weak health care systems.
  • UNICEF reports that global mortality rate for children under-five nearly halved since 1990, dropping from 90 to 46 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2013. This still means that in 2013, 6.3 million children--about 17,000 daily--died before their 5th birthday; neonatal death accounts for 44% of them (an increase compared to 37% in 1990).
  • Some 50% of global under-five deaths are caused by undernutrition.
  • Unless accelerating improvements in reducing health risks to young children, the MDG4 of reducing by two-thirds under-five child mortality would not be reached until 2026.
  • WaterAid reports that 1 in 3 women and girls in urban slums do not have access to toilets, while unsafe or open toilets increase the risks of physical and sexual violence.

Female genital mutilation/cutting traumatizes about 3 million girls each year, in addition to the estimated 140 million women and girls already affected, mostly in Africa and the Middle East and some parts of Asia. The UN Population Fund projects that if current trends persist, a further 86 million young girls worldwide could be victims of the practice by 2030. Thanks to concerted efforts by UN and NGOs, over the last few years some 8,000 communities abandoned FGM/C and almost 3,000 religious leaders declared that the practice should end. A new UN resolution calls on States to take all measures – including legislation – for prohibiting female genital mutilation.

 

Violence against women is the largest war today, as measured by death and casualties per year. Although 125 countries have laws that penalize domestic violence:

  • up to 70% of women continue to be targeted for physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime
  • 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is still not a crime.
  • The Global Status Report on Violence Prevention 2014 reports that in the 133 countries surveyed (representing 88% of world's population):
    • 25% of children have been physically abused
    • 20% of girls have been sexually abused
    • 33% of women have been a victim of physical violence at some point in her lifetime.
  • WHO reports that
    • 35% of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime
    • 38% of all murders of women are committed by intimate partners.

These are the most under-reported crimes worldwide, continuing to be perpetrated with impunity. The UN initiative COMMIT aims to encourage countries to adopt new policies to protect victims.The UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women has awarded $103 million to 393 initiatives in 136 countries and territories since its inception and is currently supporting 86 programmes in 71 countries with a value of $55.1 million.

Resolution 1325 protects women in wartime and their active participation in peace-building, as do the 15% of UN post-conflict budgets allocated to women. However, the UN warns about increased use of violence against women as a weapon, and lately, an increased use of women and children in suicide attacks. UNICEF reports that in Nigeria, at least 75% of the suicide attacks are thought to having been carried out by women and children, with their number rising -- 27 incidents reported by mid-May 2015, compared to a total 26 incidents in 2014. Additionally, the atrocities against women carried out by Boko Haram in Nigeria and neighboring countries, as well as by other Islamist extremists around the world (stoning, jailing, acid, and other attacks) and the application of the archaic sharia law continue with impunity. Sexualized violence is even more frequent in countries at war or in a post-conflict period, perpetrated by armed forces and rebel groups, militants, but also by intimate partners.One of the most effective ways for reducing violence and discrimination against women while also building lasting peace would be to have more women involved in peace-building negotiations and foreign aid administration.

 

Potential instruments:

  • A panoply of international treaties and dedicated UN organizations are vigorously advancing women’s rights, but more needs to be done for enforcement.
  • Infringements on women's rights should be subject to prosecution and international sanctions, while aid programs should be conditioned by respect of gender equity.
  • School systems should consider teaching martial arts and other forms of self-defense in physical education classes for girls, not only for self-defense but also as a deterrence policy.
  • Mothers should use their educational role in the family to assertively nurture gender equality.
  • Traditional media should refrain from gender stereotyping, and women should be better represented in journalism top management positions.
  • Use of mobile-phone-internet-based sites that are increasingly raising global awareness on violence against women should be encouraged and paid more attention to by law-makers and law enforcement organizations. Apps are being created to report violence, create alerts, plot rape maps, and handle calls for help (e.g., Safety, Women Under Siege Project, and Harrass Map). A global survey shows that mobile phones make 93% of women feel safer and 85% more independent, while for 41% they increased economic opportunities.

A recent Millennium Project study on changing stereotypes concluded that slow but massive shifts in gender stereotypes will occur over the next few decades. (See "Changing Gender Stereotypes" in 'Research' section.)

 

Measure progress: Challenge 11 will be addressed seriously when gender-discriminatory laws are gone, when discrimination and violence against women are prosecuted, when the goal of at least 30% women's representation in national legislatures is achieved in all countries, and when development strategies include gender equity throughout all sectors.

 

Regional Considerations

 

Asia and Oceania: High incomes and education levels in countries like Japan start to challenge old family structures. Japan set the goal to increase the share of women in senior leadership positions from the current 9% to 30% by 2020, considering that its GDP could grow by 16% if women would participate in the economy equally to men. Together with the Republic of Korea (where women hold 10% of leadership positions), they launched the Gender Parity Task Force to improve women's career opportunities. As per the Global Gender Gap, Japan ranks 104th and the Republic of Korea 117th. The region's best performers are Philippines--ranked 9th, followed by New Zealand (13) and Australia (24), while the worst performers are Iran (137) and Pakistan (141). The East Asia and Pacific region has nearly closed enrollment gaps between girls and boys in primary, secondary, and tertiary education, with girls even outperforming boys in some countries. However, in South Asia, only Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have reached gender parity in primary school education, reports  UNESCO.

Although all countries of South Asia have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, UNDP reports that gender inequality causes a 60.1% loss in human development in the region, while Action Aid estimates that closing the wage and employment gaps would mean a 73% income gain valued at some $4.3 trillion.  WHO notes that in the region occur about 30% of the world's maternal deaths, the second highest globally. Mainly due to the dual legal civil and religious systems in many parts of Asia early and forced marriage, violence, discrimination with respect to inheritance and land ownership, dowry issues and honor killings continue to be prevalent and unpunished. In Afghanistan, the criminal law prevents prosecutions for domestic violence, forced and child marriage, and there were calls to overturn the Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women for being counter to Islam. The project “Engaging Young Men through Social Media for the Prevention of Violence against Women” aims to end gender-based violence in Asia and the Pacific by using social media.

Son bias continues to be of concern in many countries of the region; India's 2011 census found a child sex-ratios of only 914 females for 1,000 males. India is ranked 114 by the GGI, but with more than a million Indian women now members of panchayats (local village councils), unethical practices against women are expected to change. China's one-child policy worked to reduce fertility rate, but there are now discussions that it be changed to a nation-wide two-children policy.

Female representation in legislatures is 18.5% for Asia, and 15.7% for the Pacific. After adopting the political quota system, the share of women in the parliaments of Central Asian countries increased from none to over 20%, although they still have to struggle with the reminiscent patriarchal structures.

 

Middle East and North Africa:Women’s rights in the MENA region remains critical and even worsening in some countries with the rise of religious extremism and expanded enforcement of the Sharia law. All countries of the region (except for Israel) are ranked among the worst 20 by the Global Gender Gap Index 2014. Eleven countries have closed less than 50% of the economic participation and opportunity gap, while Action Aid estimates that closing the wage and employment gaps would mean an over 366% (the highest by far of any other regions) income gain to women, valued at some $1.1 trillion. ILO notes that the region's women are much more likely than men to be in vulnerable employment -- at a rate of 55% versus 32% in North North Africa and 42% versus 27% in the Middle East. Women representation in legislatures remains the lowest in the world, with 10 countries closing less than 10% of the political empowerment gender gap; Qatar and Yemen have no women parliamentarians at all, and Kuwait and Oman have only one each. Iran, ranked 137 by the GGGI, although with a good health and education attainment score, has a relatively low economic and poor political participation of women; only nine out of 290 parliamentarians are women, but there are efforts to introduce a 30% quota from 2016.Segregation in Saudi Arabia continues; it is ranked 134th by the GGGI.

Stoning to death is still used as a legal form of punishment for "adultery" in several Muslim countries, and thepurdah(female seclusion) and namus ("virtue") customs persist in many Arab regions. Sexual harassment, rape, and sexual violence by IS and other extremist groups and security forces across the region has reached intolerable levels. More than 125 million girls and women have been victims of genital mutilation/cutting in Africa and the Middle East where the practice is concentrated. However, these are increasingly being challenged by empowered women, the outcry of the global society and women-rights icons such as Malala Yousafzai. In the Arab MENA region, philosophical, ethnic, and ethical assumptions have to change in order to make possible the structural transformations needed to improve the status of women. The international community could use sanctions and conditioned-aid, conditioned-partnership in international organizations and business partnerships to help accelerate the long-due change.

Israel (ranked 65) is the best performing country in the region and has closed over 70% of the gender gap.

 

Sub-Saharan Africa: Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of South Africa became the first woman Chairperson of the African Union Commission. In sub-Saharan Africa, female representation is 22.2% in legislatures, while Rwanda has a women-majority parliament. Three sub-Saharan African countries are ranked among the top 20 by the 2014 Global Gender Gap Index: Rwanda (7), Burundi (17), and South Africa (18) and 13 out of the 28 countries assessed have closed over 70% of the gander gap. This is mainly due to the increased participation of women in the workforce, although generally, these are in low-skilled and low-paying jobs.ILO notes that women have a nearly 85% likelihood to be in vulnerable employment versus 70% for male. Adult female labor force participation is expected to slightly increase from almost 72% in 2014 to 72.4% in 2018, yet lower than their male counterparts, which is estimated at 87.7% and almost 89% respectively. Action Aid shows that closing the wage and employment gender gap would mean an 121% income increase for women, valued at some $0.7 trillion.Although women represent 52% of the agricultural labor force, they have little or no land ownership and are further affected by increasing land-grabbing by foreign companies or countries. Low levels of education and qualification makes it very difficult for the region as a whole and for women specifically to escape the poverty vulnerability cycle.

Presently, the average fertility rate in the region is 5.1 and is not expected to drop below 3 by mid-century. With 55% of the about 800 maternal deaths per day occurring in sub-Saharan Africa, the region has the world’s highest maternal mortality, with some countries' rates as high as 1,000 death per 100,000 live births. In Kenya, at every two hours a woman dies in childbirth; that's 4,400 death per year, most of them preventable. According to Save the Children, Niger is the worst country in which to be a mother. UNICEF reports that 1 in 11 children born in sub-Saharan Africa dies before the age of 5.

Violence against women is wide-spread and in most cases unreported. In South Africa, there are an estimated 60,000 cases of sexual assault per year. Rape and sexual assaults are even more acute in the conflict-torn zones, mostly the DRC, Sudan, and Nigeria (with Boko Haran) and the neighboring areas, where sexual violence is used as a weapon and continues with impunity. In some Muslim communities, mostly in Egypt and Uganda,FGM/C is still practiced, despite increased international opposition. Improved education system and investments for payed-job opportunities (mainly for the youth); increased social spending (in some countries, only 4-6% of the GDP is allocated to social protection benefits); improved infrastructure systems--mainly water, sanitation, and electricity; and enforcement of gender-equity regulations are some basic changes needed to improve the status of women in Africa.

 

Europe: Gender parity is an important part of the structural changes in Europe. The highest gender gap is in politics, on average at 80%; women represent 35.2% of the members of the European Parliament, but only eight of the 28 commissioners are women.The Nordic countries--Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark are the highest ranked by the 2014 Global Gender Gap, having closed their gender gap by between 80% to 86%.At the end of 2014, across the EU, women account for 28% of national parliaments.Although Poland has passed a law that requires at least 35% of local candidates in general elections to be female, the rate of women in the Parliament after the last election is 24%. The inter-institutional women´s caucus launched in December 2014 is supposed to address the gap by promoting gender equality in the EU institutions. Women's share of board members of the largest publicly listed companies in the EU-28 is 20.2% (up from 11.9% in 2010); in four countries--France, Latvia, Finland, and Sweden -- they account for at least 25% of the broad members. A draft EU directive voted by the Parliament in 2013 requires publicly listed companies to have 40% of each sex on their board by 2020. In the UK, only 14% of SMEs are led by women, and the Aspire Fund was set up to support female business initiatives. A campaign has begun in Germany to get women in 30% of the management positions in journalism by 2017.

In the EU, women represent 60% of university graduates and in 2012, on average 83% of women reached upper secondary school, compared to 77.5% of men. However,  women earn on average 16% less per hour than men for the same work, or even 31% less per year, since 32.6% of women are part-time workers. This also impacts old age living standards, with 23% of women aged 65 and over being at risk of poverty, versus 17% of men. Nevertheless, Europe has the best social policies, including child care, maternity leave, and health care.

Violence against women remains a concern, with some 33% of women in the EU having experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15, and some 10% of women complaining of sexual harassment or stalking through new technologies.

Turkey, that aspires to join the EU, has yet to address its gender gap; women representation in its parliament is only 14%, it ranks 125 by the GGGI, and it has a large gender income gap (estimated income for female being $10,501 versus $26,893 for male.) In Russia, a draft law proposes that at least 30% of parliamentary seats should be occupied by women (compared with present 13.6%), as well as providing advantages for men to play a greater role in family life.

 

Latin America: Women's participation in Latin American parliaments has improved due to the introduction of quotas in many countries. Argentina, Brazil, and Chile elected women heads of state. 21.6% of the Central American Parliamentarians are women. In Mexico, 38% of the Chamber of Deputies are women and the President's reform initiative includes that 50% of all political parties' candidates for popular positions should be women. The 2014 Global Gender Gap indicates that 14 of the 26 countries in the region have closed over 70% of the gender gap, with Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Cuba being the region's highest ranked, while Guatemala, Belize, and Suriname are the region's lowest ranked.

More women than men attain tertiary education across the region, but wage discrepancies persist and female labor participation is just over 50%, compared to 80% of male; similarly, unemployment rates for women are over 8%, compared to around 5% for men. Action Aid shows that closing the wage and employment gender gap would mean almost 95% income increase for women, valued at some $1.7 trillion. Despite economic and political progress, women’s well-being continues to be hindered by the machismo structures. More than 1,678 women were murdered in fourteen Latin American countries and three Caribbean nations in 2014; ECLAC (CEPAL) did not have data from Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, Venezuela, and several other countries; hence, the number of femicide is much larger. Women are victims of organized crime in various forms, but they also represent an increasingly important force fighting it. Rural and indigenous women work at least 16 hours a day, mostly not paid. As a result of restrictive legislation, one in three maternal deaths is due to abortion, and the lifetime risk of maternal death is 0.4%.Femicideis a regional problem; thousands of women are killed by their husbands and relatives in Latin America with impunity.

 

North America:In about 10% of dual-earning households in the U.S. and 33% in Canada, women earn more than their partners. Women lead a third of the Canadian SMEs. More women are graduating from universities than men and their number in senior manager positions is increasing. A survey of some 338 companies shows that in 2014, women CEOs in the U.S. had a median pay of $15.9 million, compared to their male counterparts who had a median salary of $10.4 million. On average, women earn 77% of what men earn for comparable work, a wage gap that increases to 64% for African-American women, and 56% for Latina women compared to white men. Based on the past half-century progress, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates that in the U.S., the national wage gap will close around year 2058, although with significant differences among states--varying from the year 2038 in Florida, to 2159 in Wyoming.An analysis by the IWPR shows that if women were compensated at an equal level with men, the poverty rate among working women would fall from 8.1% to 3.9%, and the country's GDP could rise by about 3%. The Paycheck Fairness Act — a bill not yet approved — aims to counter gender-based pay discrimination.

Women’s representation in U.S. legislatures is only 19.4%; in Canada the rate is 25.2%, and three of its provincial Premiers are women. Both the U.S. and Canadian governments made critical cuts in domestic and international family planning programs for women. The U.S. is among the countries with the costliest childbirth, most expensive day care, the shortest parental leave (in 2012, only 11% of private sector workers had access to paid family leave), and no national regulation nor government-provided paid parental leave. These are even more critical as the share of one-parent families in the U.S. increased from 7.4% in 1950 to 32% by 2013 (almost 60% for African-Americans); over 50% of births to women younger than 30 occurs outside marriage, and an estimated 4 million women and children of low-income single mothers are jobless and without financial aid.

Canada provides a year of paid maternity leave, but has yet to adopt adequate family supports such as affordable child care and sick days. More than 40% of new parents surveyed said they could not afford maternity leave, and 81% of those who took the leave and returned to work, would have stayed longer if they could have afforded it. The share of employed mothers with children aged 6 and over increased from 46% in 1976 to almost 80% by 2012, while women with children earn, on average, 12% less than women without children.

In the U.S., violence against women was reduced by 55% since the passage of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994.

 

Graphs expressing the global situation:

 

Proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments (% of members)

 

Source: IPU, with Millennium Project compilation and forecast; graph from the 2015-16 State of the Future

 

Mortality rate, infant (per 1,000 live births)

 

 

Source: World Bank indicators, with Millennium Project compilation and forecast; graph from the 2015-16 State of the Future

 

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