26 Intolerable Facts: The Surprising Truth on the Status of Women

Dec 5, 2009 1:00 AM ET

(3BLMedia/theCSRfeed) New York, NY - December 5, 2009

  1. The realities for many women around the world are harsh and antiquated. The plight of women is such a global problem of epic proportion that one of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals for 2015 is to promote gender equality and empower women. 

  1. [Female children are] discriminated against from the earliest stages of life, through childhood and into adulthood. In some areas of the world, men outnumber women by 5 in every 100. The reasons for this discrepancy include harmful attitudes and practices such as female genital mutilation, male child preference, early marriage, violence against women, sexual exploitation, sexual abuse, and discrimination against girls in food allocation and other health-related practices. As a result, fewer girls than boys survive into adulthood. 

Source: United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)/Beijing Platform for Action, Para. 259

3.   Women work two-thirds of the world's working hours, produce half of the world's food, yet earn only 10 percent of the world's income and own less than one percent of the world's property.

  Source: World Development Indicators, 1997, Womankind Worldwide 
  1. Of the world’s one billion poorest people, three-fifths are female.

Source: UNDP. 2006. Taking Gender Equality Seriously: Making Progress, Meeting New Challenges 
  1. Of the 960 million adults in the world who cannot read, two-thirds are women.

Source: UNDP. 2006. Taking Gender Equality Seriously: Making Progress, Meeting New Challenges 
  1. Seventy percent of the 130 million children who are out of school are girls.

Source: UNDP. 2006. Taking Gender Equality Seriously: Making Progress, Meeting New Challenges 
  1. 72 percent of the world's 33 million refugees are women and children.

Source: UNHCR (2006) 
  1. Each year, half a million women die and 10 to 15 million suffer chronic disability from preventable complications of pregnancy and childbirth.

Source: UNDP. 2006. Taking Gender Equality Seriously: Making Progress, Meeting New Challenges 
  1. UNICEF reports that more girls and women from developing countries die from childbirth complications than from any other cause. Of the 1,400 women and girls who die each day from delivery complications, 99 percent of them are in under-developed countries.

Source: UNFPA, Reproductive Health Fact Sheet, 2005 
  1. The lifetime risk of maternal death is highest in sub-Saharan Africa where a woman’s risk of dying from maternal causes is as high as one in 16, compared with one in 2,800 in industrialized countries.

Source: UNFPA, The State of the World Population 2005, New York, 2005 
  1. In sub-Saharan Africa, 57 percent of those living with HIV are women, and young women aged 15 to 24 years are at least three times more likely to be infected than men of the same age.

Source: UNDP. 2006. Taking Gender Equality Seriously: Making Progress, Meeting New Challenges 
  1. Women hold just over 18 percent of the seats in parliaments around the world, a 60 percent increase since 1995 but still a far way from legislative equality with men.

Source: Inter-Parliamentary Union, 2009 
  1. Despite greater parliamentary participation, women are largely absent from the highest levels of governance. In January 2008, women accounted for 7 of the 150 elected heads of state and 8 of the 192 heads of governments of United Nations Member States.

Source: United Nations State of the World Population 2008 
  1. 70 nations surpass the U.S. in the percentage of women in national legislature.

Source: Inter-Parliamentary Union, “Women in National Parliaments,” as of 28 February 2009

15. As of 2009, 441 members of Congress are male (83 percent) and 92 are female (17 percent). 

  1. In the U.S., large gender disparities are evident at the state and local government levels. The governor's mansion in only 8 of the 50 states is run by a woman.

Source: Wikipedia.com 
  1. The latest study by women-at-work research organization Catalyst finds the gender gap remains a persistent problem for business, particularly at executive levels. Findings suggest some noteworthy trends: women hold less than 10 percent of “clout” titles (those higher than vice president); more than half of the Fortune 500 companies had fewer than three women officers; only eight Fortune 500 companies had a woman as CEO last year; women held just 6.4 percent of top-earner positions at major companies; 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies reported zero women in top earner slots. 

Source: Susan Nierenberg and Serena Fong, “Rate of Women’s Advancement to Top Corporate Officer Positions Slow, New Catalyst Tenth Anniversary Census Reveals,” July 26, 2006 
  1. The Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963. At the time, U.S. women earned just 58 cents for every dollar earned by men. By 2006, that rate had only increased to 77 cents, an improvement of less than half a penny a year. If working women earned equal wage (who work the same number of hours; have the same education, age and union status; and live in the same region of the country) as the males who currently out-earn them, their annual family incomes would rise by $4,000 and poverty rates would be cut in half. During a lifetime of full-time work (47 years) the gap in pay amounts to an estimated loss in wages of $700,000 for female high school graduates, $1.2 million for college graduates and $2 million for professional school graduates.

Source: infoplease.com/National Women's Law Center 
  1. One out of every six American women (17.7 million) has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. 15 percent of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12.
Source: Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network 
  1. One in every four American women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. 73 percent of family violence victims are female. Females comprise 84 percent of spousal abuse victims and 86 percent of abuse victims at the hands of a significant other. 

Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence 
  1. Victims of sexual assault are three times more likely to suffer from depression, six times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs, and four times more likely to contemplate suicide.

Source: Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network 
  1. 30-60 percent of perpetrators of intimate partner violence in the U.S. also abuse children in the household. Behavior moves from one generation to the next. Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.

Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence 
  1. Approximately 80 percent of trans-national trafficking victims are women and girls and up to 50 percent are minors. The majority of trafficking victims are females forced into commercial sexual exploitation.

Source: U.S. Department of State (June 2007) 
  1. Experts report the average woman experiences a 45 percent decrease in her standard of living after going through a divorce. Meanwhile, the average man experiences a 15 percent improvement in his standard of living. 

Source: MSNBC report on August 21, 2007 
  1. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program was established by Congress in 1996. In 2003, it served 1.4 women (90 percent of the adult caseload) and 4.4 million children in the U.S. 

Source: The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation 
  1. Gender is still the best single predictor of who is responsible for completing housework (and not just in the U.S.). Men still do only 30 percent of the housework, according to a report released in March 2008 by the Council on Contemporary Families. 

Source: CNN.com/living