Happy International women’s day! Feminism is “the belief that women should be allowed the same rights, power and opportunities as men and be treated in the same way”. I’m proud to be a feminist and I feel that while inequalities exist in many different areas of life, feminism remains as relevant and important a concept as it has ever been.
Today, I hope that both males and females will take the time to educate themselves about the gender inequalities that still remain around the world. Let’s all be proud to stand up for the rights of women and especially for those living in less developed countries where the issues around women’s rights are thrown into even starker relief.
I’d encourage you to take 2 minutes to watch the James Bond video for international women’s day. It’s great for making you think.
If you have a little longer, here are some facts and figures, all taken from The World’s Women 2010: Trends and Statistics produced by the UN.
- In sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Middle East, women account for more than half of people living with HIV/AIDS.
- Women account for two thirds of the world’s 774 million adult illiterates – a proportion that is unchanged over the past two decades.
- Women are still rarely employed in jobs with status, power and authority or in traditionally male blue-collar occupations.
- Horizontal and vertical job segregation has resulted in a persistent gender pay gap everywhere.
- In all regions, women spend at least twice as much time as men on unpaid domestic work. Women who are employed spend an inordinate amount of time on the double burden of paid work and family responsibilities; when unpaid work is taken into account, women’s total work hours are longer than men’s in all regions.
Power and decision-making
- Around the world, a lack of gender balance in decision-making positions in government persists. Women continue to be underrepresented in national parliaments, where on average only 17 per cent of seats are occupied by women. The share of women among ministers also averages 17 per cent. The highest positions are even more elusive: only 7 of 150 elected Heads of State in the world are women, and only 11 of 192 Heads of Government.
- The “glass ceiling” has hindered women’s access to leadership positions in private companies. This is especially notable in the largest corporations, which remain male-dominated. Of the 500 largest corporations in the world, only 13 have a female chief executive officer.
Violence against women
- Statistics indicate that violence against women is a universal phenomenon and women are subjected to different forms of violence – physical, sexual, psychological and economic – both within and outside their homes.
- Perpetrators of violence against women are most often their intimate partners. Women are abused physically and sexually by intimate partners at different rates throughout the world – yet such abuse occurs in all countries or areas, without exception.
- At the individual level, women’s lack of access to and control over resources limits their economic autonomy and increases their vulnerability to economic or environmental shocks.
- Significant proportions of married women from the less developed regions have no control over household spending, including spending their own cash earnings, particularly in countries from sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.
In a world where such inequalities exist, who thinks that feminism is dead?