‘Because I am a Girl’ campaign reveals continuing gender equality divide

“There is no country in the world where women have equal status or influence to men, a study shows.”

by Dan Buckley, via Irish Examiner

A report published yesterday by overseas development organisation Plan Ireland reveals some startling findings regarding the discrimination still encountered by women worldwide.

The report outlines how, despite some improvements, there remains no country in the world where women have equal status or influence to men. It highlights how women still lag far behind their male counterparts in all significant indicators such as economic attainment, education accomplishment and political influence. It also shows millions of women are victims of violence and abuse.

The report, entitled ‘Pathways to Power: Creating a Sustainable Change for Adolescent Girls’, is an initiative of Plan Ireland’s Because I am a Girl campaign. This is the eighth report in the series and is being published in the lead up to International Day of the Girl on October 11.

The report also makes a series of recommendations on how to transform the institutions that wield power and inhibit them from progressing.

Plan Ireland chief executive David Dalton said: “Girls face double discrimination because of their age and gender. Astonishingly, 70% of the 1bn people living in extreme poverty are women and girls. This report scrutinises the power structures that contribute to this appalling reality and offers tangible solutions for change including:

* Establishing specific government ministries for women;

* Instituting dedicated courts to deal with domestic violence;

* Increasing the number of women in decision-making positions;

* Instituting a UN Commission on information and accountability for gender equality.

“Power struggles through history, from the early collective action for women’s votes to civil rights movements, from disability campaigns to trade union activism, are long and usually painful,” says the report. “The struggle for gender equality and for girls’ rights, the carving out of their pathways to power, is no different.

“Plan Ireland believes that it’s time for a new approach to gender equality: one which addresses the question of power directly, and creates an enabling environment for all girls and women in the 21st century.”

The report was launched by Justina Mutale, African Woman of the Year (2012), Minister for Overseas Development Seán Sherlock, Mr Dalton, and Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh, Because I am a Girl Ambassador.

Mr Sherlock said: “Access to quality education empowers women and promotes better health and livelihood options for them and for their children. Despite progress over the last decade, the right to education is still denied to an unacceptably large number of girls today.

“The International Day of the Girl provides an invaluable opportunity to raise awareness of and to promote the rights of girls worldwide. Plan Ireland’s Because I Am a Girl campaign makes a valuable contribution to these global efforts, and it is fitting that this year’s report should focus on Pathways to Power as its theme.”

A copy of the report can be found here

Gender divide

* Worldwide, women still earn between 10% and 30% less than men.

* Globally, women make up only 21.9% of parliamentarians, with only 19 female world leaders.

* In Ireland, only 15% of parliamentarians elected at the last general election were women.

* Of the 500 largest corporations in the world, only 25 have a female chief executive officer.

* Just 9% of board positions in the top companies in Ireland’s stock exchange are held by women.

* 29% of young women have experienced violence at the hands of their partners.

* One in three girls in the developing world are married by their 18th birthday.