Significant levels of inequality persist globally, and many women and girls experience multiple and combined forms of discrimination, vulnerability and marginalisation throughout their lives.
Recent studies carried out by United Nations (UN) agencies show that violence against women and girls is still accepted in many parts of the world.
Such violence continues to be common, warned a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) at its 64th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).
In 2016, women and girls represented 70% of detected trafficking victims worldwide, and most of them were sexually exploited, the report said. One in 20 girls from the ages of 15 to 19 (about 13 million) has experienced rape in her life, one of the most violent forms of sexual abuse.
The report also highlights negative nutrition trends for girls, as well as a growing concern about their poor mental health.
However, there are some encouraging numbers in education, such as the number of girls out of school falling by 79 million in the past 20 years and, over the past decade, girls have been more likely to attend high school than boys.
For its part, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) warned that 90% of people in the world have some kind of prejudice against women.
The UNDP provided details on the Gender Social Norms Index, which measures how social beliefs obstruct gender equality in politics, work, education and other areas.
According to the Index, which covers data from 75 countries, half of men and women feel that men are better political leaders.
Additionally, more than 40% of people consider that men are better business executives and that they have more right to a job when those jobs are scarce.
28% of UNDP respondents think a man is justified in hitting his wife.
Information is also available on how bias is changing in some 30 countries. Such information shows that while some improvements are being made, attitudes appear to be worsening in recent years.
In addition to publicising the study, the UNDP launched a social media campaign under the hashtag #CheckYourBias, which features an interactive survey for everyone to assess their own gender leanings.
In a political declaration made on 9th March, the UN member states expressed their willingness to act to advance gender equality and also acknowledged that greater efforts are being urged in the face of new challenges.
The political statement of the 64th CSW highlighted the importance of preserving all the achievements attained so far, now that there are many threatened in many countries.
The text includes education, the leadership role of women, their participation in peace processes, and their right to medical coverage, economic empowerment, and their work on climate action among the aspects to be prioritised.
The declaration, approved by consensus, takes up the main lines of the Declaration of Beijing, a document that has since 1995 promoted the emancipation and advancement of women worldwide and defined objectives for gender equality.
Diplomatic sources point out that in order to avoid a failure in the document’s adoption, any reference to reproductive sexual health was eliminated, an issue that the United States representation has opposed for years. (PL)
(Translated by Hannah Phelvin) – Photos: Pixabay