Gender Equality: an activists view

Last month, Gender was a hot topic within International Development and the fight against poverty worldwide. In March it was International Women’s Day, UN Women gained some momentum and it also played host the publication of The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty edited by Sylvia Chant.  It has been great to highlight the progress and change around gender issues world-wide and the issues were even highlighted by the likes of James Bond.

March is now over, yet the issues around gender equality still have a long way to go.  Here are some key facts:

  • In 2009 women on average accounted for less than 18.4 % of members of parliament. At all levels and in all sectors fewer women than men are part of decision-making processes. (IPU)
  • Over two-thirds of the world’s 776 million illiterates are women and despite improvements, more than 55 percent of the 75 million out of school primary age children are girls. (UNESCO)
  • Worldwide, women earn on average only 84 per cent of what men earn in formal waged work. However, large numbers of women are concentrated in informal and precarious work, associated with low and unstable earnings. (ITUC)
  • Every year over 536,000 women die of pregnancy-related complications, and between 8 million and 20 million a year suffer serious injury or disability from the same causes. (WHO)
  • Women are half the 31 million people living with HIV worldwide. More than three in four (77%) of adult women (15 years and older) with HIV globally live in Sub-Saharan Africa – that’s an estimated 12 million out of the 15.5 million women infected with HIV worldwide. (UN)
  • Between 10 and 69 per cent of women report abuse by their intimate partner in every country where reliable data exist. Systematic rape has left millions of women and adolescent girls traumatized, pregnant, or infected with HIV. (UN)

(Source: Oxfam Issues In DepthGender Equality)

So as a new month starts, please try not to forget about gender equality, as its’ issues are so far-reaching and affect us all economically, socially and financially. I will be showing my support to the Oxfam Pramble which will see a pram being pushed from Manchester to all the way to London, to highlight issues of maternal health. I will be back here to share my views on the final push which ends on Londons’ Millennium Bridge on the 2nd of April!

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