Hillary Rodham Clinton, then first lady, made headlines with these words on September 5, 1995, at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing: "If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference let it be that human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights once and for all." 20 years later, the U.N. is taking stock of how far women have come and their new report says there's a lot of work to do. No country has achieved gender equality and violence against women remains "alarmingly high." Clinton will address the U.N. on this topic today at 1:30 p.m. Helen Clark, who runs the U.N.'s development program, says, "This anniversary year is our opportunity to resolve the unfinished business of Beijing.” She says countries must do a better job ensuring that women have access to health services.
About 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced sexual or physical violence, as stated by The U.N. About 1 out of 10 girls under 20 (One hundred and twenty million) have been subjected to sexual violence. The report says discriminatory attitudes and social norms in many countries make all this difficult to prevent. Ban Ki-Moon, U.N. Secretary General, says he's determined to make these gender issues a high priority. He says, "Women bear the burden. Women pay the price. But women are not just victims; they are agents of progress and change.”
The U.N. says there has been major progress in the areas of education and health for females. In politics, there are nearly double the women serving as lawmakers around the globe. Ban says the progress is uneven. He says, "There are five countries in the world where not a single woman is represented in Parliament, and eight countries in the world where not a single woman is a cabinet member.” The U.N. does keep track of the number of female lawmakers around the world. Saudi Arabia, Micronesia, Palau, Qatar, Tonga, and Vanuatu each have zero females in Parliament. Belize, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Yemen, and Kuwait are just a few who only have one female in Parliament. The U.N. goal for gender equality is 50:50 by 2030.
It is amazing for me to read articles like this. As a female, I feel like we’ve come such a long way in terms of equality, but the numbers state otherwise. I am flabbergasted at the number of countries with zero females in office, although it doesn’t surprise me because the countries with zero females are some of the ones with horrible women’s rights.
Thirty-five percent of women worldwide have experienced sexual violence. This is an astonishing number. It amazes me that the number of victims of sexual assault is still so high. It truly makes me wonder if there are actually precautions being taken towards improving these statistics, or of there is even progress being made. Of course, being a privileged American female, I have not experienced some of the gender issues that other females in other countries may have encountered. However, I have experienced some gender issues in my lifetime, and I am part of the thirty-five percent. Having experienced such issues seems like such a rare occurrence here in the United States, but these issues must be very common overseas if the number of effected females is still soaring out of control.
I would love to see the U.N.’s goal of gender equality by 2030 come to reality, but I feel like the rate we are currently trucking along at is not quick enough. It would be amazing to see women’s rights and equality actually happen in this lifetime, let alone in 15 years.