Worldwide, 600 million women are illiterate compared to 320 million men (UNFPA, 2005). From 1998-2008, the number of unemployed women grew from 70.2 to 81.6 million (ILO 2008). Approximately 1.5 to 3 million girls and women are killed every year through gender-related violence.
In December 2009, World Vision Australia launched a new report, entitled Refocusing rhetoric into action. Investing in women: Why it matters. The report presents compelling evidence of the effects poverty and marginalisation have on women and girls. The research for this report has been drawn from a large range of recognised sources, including the World Bank, UNICEF, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), the Food and Agriculture Organsiation, and many others.
Refocusing rhetoric into action is part of World Vision’s contribution to strengthening and informing Australians about the importance of empowering women and girls.
The report is comprehensive – providing information on the status of women in areas of education, health, access to resources, property and inheritance rights, economic empowerment, political participation, gender-based violence and female genital mutilation/cutting.
What the report strongly shows is that the startling numbers given above are not merely statistics – they reflect the realities faced every day by women and girls around the world. Others include:
- Around 55% of the 75 million children out of school are girls (World Bank 2009).
- Globally, more girls than boys die before age 5. This is attributed to the inequalities and discrimination experienced by girl children from birth (UNICEF 2008).
- 536,000 women die each year from pregnancy complications – 1 every minute. For every woman that dies, 20 or more are injured or disabled (UNFPA 2009).
- The harmful, traditional practice of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting is practised in over 30 countries around the world (UNICEF 2005).
- Women in Africa represent 52% of the total population, contribute approximately 75% of the agricultural work, and produce 60-80% of the food, yet earn only 10% of African incomes and own just 1% of the continent's assets (FAO).
- Women work 2/3 of the world’s working hours.
- Women own only 1-2% of all titled land worldwide (Steinzor 2003).
World Vision believes that gender equality needs to be prioritised in order to achieve effective and sustainable development. Millennium Development Goal 3 (and Australia is a signatory to the Millennium Development Goals) calls on the world’s governments to promote gender equality and empower women.
To read the full report, you can download it here. To view other World Vision publications, see our Reports, research & publications page.
This was originally published on the 11th of January 2010.