The World's Women reports
|UNITED NATIONS RELEASES MOST RECENT STATISTICS ON WORLD'S WOMEN|
Latest Comprehensive Report on Available Data Shows Gains But Persistent Disparities Between Women and Men Worldwide
(New 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 women.
"This 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
secondary levels 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."
Citing progress 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.
The World's 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:
Human Rights and Political Decision-Making
Education and Communication
Women and Men in Families
"Despite the 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 many countries.
The improvement 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."