With #MeToo, the #TotalShutDown marches and the fall of sanitary pad tax, women’s rights and resistance movements have been under the spotlight over the last year or two. But where do things really stand when it comes to equality? What are the statistics? A recent Amnesty International report released on 10 December revealed some facts.
The report is called Rights Today and it asks, ‘How far have we come?’. It’s been 70 years since the Declaration of Human Rights in 1984, and the fight for gender equality continues to be one of the major struggles in this report.
The Gender Pay Gap is Still Huge
Globally-speaking, women get paid 23% less the men in their same positions. This is the current gender pay gap. In addition, 104 countries have laws preventing women from working in specific jobs, which restricts their job choice, according to the World Bank. Around 740 million women work in the informal economy and are not legally protected, reports the Mail and Guardian.
Women Who Own Land are Few
Women only own around 12,8% of the agricultural land in the entire world, according to the UN. Locally, in KwaZulu-Natal, women are being denied the right to own land. The Mail and Guardian reported that the Ingonyama Trust Board and traditional leaders are still forcing women to sign leases through male proxies.
Gender-based Violence Remains an Epidemic
Gender-based violence and incidences of rape in South Africa still ranks among the worst in the world. Globally, Amnesty International also reports that 23% of women (polled in eight countries) have experienced online abuse or harassment, including threats of physical and sexual violence. This shows how locally and internationally, online and offline, women are not as safe as men.
Women Do Twice as Much Unpaid Care and Domestic Work
Many of us already know this to be true, although we may not realise the scale of this inequality. Based on data from 83 countries analysed by the UN, women do more than double the domestic labour and care work that men do. This statistic refers to unpaid work. What is the effect of this? The disproportionate domestic workload impacts women’s capacity for education, employment and income potential. As a result, women have less time and opportunity to build a career than men.
Some good news on how far we have come?
The World Economic Forum has called for governments to increase women’s participation in the labour to that of men. However, they’ve also stated that closing the gender economic gap will take 217 years. Women cannot wait two centuries for change. Under the UN Sustainable Development Goals, governments have made a political commitment to achieve gender equality by 2030.
While these two timelines are (disturbingly) inconsistent, governments are now starting to ensure gender equality. More than 100 governments are now tracking budget allocations for gender equality. There might still be a long way to go for real transformation, but it is a start, and an important one. In real terms, this means that governments must address the gaps in legal frameworks and public spending.
With the surge of women’s marches and movements this year, governments can no longer ignore our voices. While we continue to fight for equal rights (social, cultural and economic rights) it’s important to keep the statistics in mind. To remember how far we’ve come and how far we still need to go.
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