International Women’s Day

Yesterday, Friday, March 8, was International Women’s Day. All across the world, not only the achievements of remarkable women are celebrated on International Women’s Day, a celebration that started a few years ago, in 1911, but yesterday also focuses on all the work that still needs to be done to achieve gender parity across the globe.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day was “Balance For Better” which encapsulates the concept and idea that in a world that’s gender-balanced, everyone will benefit both economically and socially. Now, it is up to all of the world’s people, both women and men, to make this happen.

Statistics show that there are still significant differences in the sorts of inequality that women face all across the world. From domestic burdens, cultural representation, and child marriage, to unequal financial compensation, more difficulties to move up on the corporate ladder, to right out abuse and slavery, women across the globe are faced with unequal treatment and abuse.

We need to stop this and change is possible through collective action, standing up for women’s rights, and shared ownership. Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • There are just six countries where women are granted the same legal rights to work as men.

The World Bank recently published a report titled “Women, Business & the Law” that researched and assessed gender discrimination across 187 nations. See also: Gender Inequality in the Workplace.

The report states that only Denmark, Belgium, France, Sweden, Latvia, and Luxemburg were scoring full marks on all eight relevant indicators that range from freedom of movement to receiving pensions. This has a negative influence on economic decisions that women will make in their professional careers.

Typically, economies give women just 75 percent of the rights that men have in the areas that were measured. Across the globe, and in third-world countries predominantly, violence and inequality and violence are also present in all sorts of workplaces. Shouldn’t it be high time that our western societies stop shutting our eyes and ears to these gigantic problems that are affecting women all over the world?

  • Every day, over 35,000 girls are becoming child brides. Every day!

Across the world, and each and every year, more than 12.5 million girls get married before they reach the age of 18. That’s roughly 35,000 girls every day. One girl every other second. We can find more than 650 million women that are alive today who got married as child brides.

There are several reasons that cause this phenomenon which vary by different communities, but often, we see that since girls are valued less high than boys, they are married off at a very young age. This way, the “economic burden” is transferred to another family.

  • Because safety features in cars are typically designed for men, women have a 47 percent higher chance to suffer severe injuries in a car crash.

In 2011, a study performed by and published by the University of Virginia among almost 50 thousand crash victims over a period of more than 10 years, found that women car drivers were far more likely to get injured in a car crash than their male counterparts. This has to do with Gender and Gender Inequality as well. It’s not just a third-world problem. Often, on the contrary!

The study concluded that this was so since car safety features are designed to serve men in the first place. Head restraint positions are based on men and as women have a shorter height, different neck position and strength, different musculature, and a different preferred seating position, they are more susceptible to severe injury in a car crash.

  • Of all AI professionals, only just over 20 percent are women (lack of confidence?)

A Forum’s Global Gender Gap study found that just some 22 percent of all AI professionals in the world are women and almost 78 percent are men. This means we have to close a 72 percent gender gap and reflects actually also the broader skills gap.

In 2014, only 15% of women who started a university study in an OECD country decided to go for a science-related subject. Of the men, almost 40 percent chose a science-related direction. Maybe not surprisingly, in sports studies, similar results were found.

In 2016, a PISA report discovered that even high-achieving female students were underachieving when they had to think “like a scientist”. It appeared that girls were not as confident as their male counterparts in solving math and science questions. They also reported a considerably higher level of anxiety toward math questions.

In a 2003 Cornell University study among the school’s students, psychologists discovered that female students were rating their scientific skills far lower than male students did even though both groups performed more or less the same in science quizzes.

The researchers concluded that women could be avoiding scientific pursuits disproportionately as their self-views and self-confidence was leading them to a mischaracterization of how well they objectively perform at scientific tasks.

  • About 1 in 3 film characters is female

In the period 2010 – 2014, the Geena Davis Institute was analyzing 120 film releases in 10 countries. The study found that of almost 6 thousand film characters, not even one third, to be exact 30.9 percent, were female and over two thirds (69.1 percent) were male.

  • Unequal options in education

Another issue is unequal opportunities in education. Every day, three billion (!) people across the world are faced with literacy challenges. There are hundreds of thousands of children who cannot even READ this article! Of all those children, girls and women are representing almost 70 percent of those who cannot read or write!

War, poverty, war, and gender inequality are affecting access to education and literacy. More than 60 million children in the primary education age are not getting any education at all. They do not attend any school and over 60 percent of those kids are girls. Let’s face it: in more than 20 so-called “developing countries”, the respective governments spend more money on arms and weapons than on primary, basic school education.

  • How long do we need to deal with the gender gap?

If the current progress rate continues, we will need more than 100 years to reach a level of gender parity. This is what a recent Global Gender Gap report (World Economic Forum) states. The study covered more than one hundred countries and concluded that the biggest hurdles to close the gap lie in the economic, political, and social dimensions. It may look like we’ll have to climb a mountain but there are more ways to climb a mountain, aren’t there? The biggest gap, however, lies in the field of political empowerment of women.