Women: a long road to equality

Studio shot of two jars with coins labeled

Inequalities between men and women are widespread around the world but vary widely according to geographical zone.

Progress has, however, been made for women in the areas of education, access to jobs and political representation.

Here’s an overview:

Women better educated

– The proportion of girls denied schooling has dropped from 60 percent in 1990 to 53 percent in 2009, according to the UN’s cultural and educational organisation UNESCO.

– The improvement has been strongest in the East Asia and Pacific regions, where the rate fell from 70 to 40 percent over a 20-year period.

– More women than men pursue advanced studies in most regions: developed countries, central and eastern Europe, East Asia and the Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa.

– Nevertheless, 60 percent of the world’s illiterate are women.

One woman in two in work

– Worldwide, just half the women of working age are deemed active — working or seeking work — compared with 77 percent of men, according to the United Nations.

– The share of working women is highest in Sub-Saharan Africa at 64 percent. It is also there that the rate has increased the fastest in 25 years and that the difference between men and women is the smallest, at 13 percentage points.

– In the Middle East and in North Africa the share of working women is only 22 percent, against 75 percent for men, and it is just 30 percent in South Asia.

– According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), 6.2 percent of women are at risk of losing their jobs worldwide, compared with 5.5 percent of men.

Equal work, unequal pay

– At the global level, women earn 23 percent less than men on average, according to the UN.

– The wage gap reaches 33 percent in South Asia but declines to 14 percent in the Middle East.

– At the current rate it will take 70 years to close the salary gap, the ILO estimates.

– According to the UN, women are over-represented on the shop floor — 71 percent in developed countries and 56 percent in developing countries — but under-represented at management level (39 percent in developed countries and 28 percent in developing countries).

– Only 18.3 percent of businesses are led by a woman.

Longer working days

– Women on average do 2.5 times more unpaid domestic work and caring for children and elderly people than men, according to the ILO.

– In developed economies working women do eight hours and nine minutes paid and unpaid work, against seven hours and 36 minutes for men. In developing economies the respective figures are nine hours and 20 minutes for women and eight hours and seven minutes for men.

– Women, who represent 40 percent of the total workforce, account for 57 percent of part-time work.

Politics opens up to women, slowly

– In 2015, 22 percent of parliamentarians in the world were women, compared with 11.3 percent in 1995, UN data shows.

– Regional disparities are strong — Nordic countries count 41.1 percent of women in their parliaments, whereas the Pacific region reports just 15.7 percent.

– In January 2015, only 17 percent of government ministers were women and most held portfolios in the social sector, such as health and education.

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