York, Department of Economic and Social Affairs,
Statistics Division) -- The United Nations today
released The World's Women 2000: Trends and
Statistics, a one-of-a-kind compilation of
the latest data documenting progress for women
worldwide in six areas: health, human rights and
political decision-making, work, education and
communication, population, and families. The report,
produced by the United Nations Statistics Division,
becomes public just prior to a Special Session
of the General Assembly to review progress governments
have made in improving women's lives since the
Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in
1995 and to agree on future priority actions for
report attempts to answer the urgent but complex
question of what real progress are the world's
women making in their lives," said Nitin Desai,
Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social
Affairs. "Available data show that women are making
gains, but persistent disparities exist between
women and men. We can see that the gender gap
in enrolment in primary and
of schooling is closing, but it is unlikely this
gap will be closed by the target date of 2005.
While the gender gap in rates of economic activity
is narrowing, women still must reconcile their
family responsibilities with employment outside
the home. Recent declines in early marriage and
early childbearing in most regions show real change
in the quality of women's lives, but in 3 of 5
countries in Southern Asia and in 11 of 30 countries
in sub-Saharan Africa, at least 30 percent of
young women aged 15 to 19 have been married."
in collecting gender statistics, the report also
stresses that new data is needed on issues unique
to women, such as violence against women and maternal
health. For example, new importance is being placed
on women's reproductive health and safe motherhood,
but the report states that data are not yet available
to show whether the new concern with safe motherhood
has been translated into improved maternal care.
Women 2000 is the third in a series of reports
that has broken new ground. The first, issued
in 1991, was a direct response to a rising demand
by a wide range of users for data on women. The
field continued to evolve with a second edition
in 1995 and now the current edition that looks
at the status of women through the lens of statistical
data and analysis. The information and data in
the present publication are intended to provide
a "snapshot" of some of the more salient statistical
findings since 1995, while also drawing out recent
changes and long-term trends.
In the last seven
years, governments, institutions and non-governmental
organizations have worked at every level to implement
and incorporate the agendas of a series of UN
conferences into national programmes for action.
The success---or lack of success---of these efforts
is the subject of The World's Women 2000.
The topics within each field of concern were shaped
both by the availability of data and by the calls
for action emerging from the global conferences.
Highlights and important findings in The World's
Women 2000 include:
- There are continuing differences
in lifetime risk of maternal mortality between
developed and developing countries. An African
woman's lifetime risk of dying from pregnancy-related
causes is 1 in 16; in Asia, 1 in 65; and in
Europe, 1 in 1,400.
- Women now account for almost
half of all cases of HIV/AIDS, and in countries
with high HIV prevalence, young women are
at higher risk of contracting HIV than young
- Life expectancy continues
to increase for women and men in most developing
regions but has decreased dramatically in
Southern Africa as a result of AIDS.
- Women now comprise an increasing
share of the world's labor force---at least
one third in all regions except in northern
Africa and western Asia.
- Self-employment and part-time
and home-based work have expanded opportunities
for women's participation in the labor force
but are characterized by lack of security,
lack of benefits and low income.
- More women than before are
in the labor force throughout their reproductive
years, though obstacles to combining family
responsibilities with employment persist.
and Political Decision-Making
- Physical and sexual abuse
affect millions of girls and women worldwide---yet
are known to be seriously under-reported.
- In some African countries,
more than half of all women and girls have
undergone female genital mutilation and its
prevalence is not declining.
- Women and girls comprise
half of the world's refugees and, as refugees,
are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence
while in flight, in refugee camps and/or during
- Despite calls for gender
and equality, women are significantly under-represented
in Governments, political parties and at the
- The gender gap in primary
and secondary schooling is closing, but women
still lag behind men in some countries in
Africa and Southern Asia.
- Two thirds of the world's
876 million illiterates are women, and the
number of illiterates is not expected to decrease
significantly in the next twenty years.
- More women than men lack
the basic literacy and computer skills needed
to enter "new media" professions.
Women and Men
- Women are generally marrying
later but more than a quarter of women aged
15 to 19 are married in 22 countries---all
in developing regions.
- Informal unions are common
in developed regions and in some countries
of the developing regions.
- Women are having fewer children
on average but with more women of reproductive
age, world population continues to grow.
- Women represent a large
proportion of international migrants---an
estimated 56 million women out of a total
of 118 million migrants.
fact that considerable progress has been made
in the development of gender statistics, anecdote
and misperception abound in measuring women's
progress," said Mr. Desai. "On many issues of
particular concern, there is no data collected
anywhere. On other relevant issues, data are collected
but only in a few countries. Even basic statistical
series on women are not collected routinely in
of national statistical capacity---the ability
to provide timely and reliable statistics---is
essential for improving gender statistics. The
United Nations Economic and Social Council has
recognized the importance of statistical capacity
building for the implementation and follow-up
of the global conferences. It has urged countries,
international and regional agencies to work together
to create effective systems, especially in developing
countries, to produce vital and necessary data
so that we may truly understand women's advancement
around the world."
The World's Women 2000: Trends and Statistics is available
from United Nations Publications, Two UN Plaza, Room DC2-853,
Dept. PRES, New York, NY 10017
Telephone: 800-253-9646 or 212-963-8302