March 8, 2020 / 12:45 AM / a month ago

Women's rights: 25 years of progress? Or not?

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - World leaders promised 25 years ago to empower girls and women and work toward ending discrimination following a landmark gender equality meeting in Beijing.

From getting more girls into school to reducing deaths in childbirth, improvements have been made. But equality remains a long way off, with millions of girls and women’s lives still scarred by discrimination, poverty and violence.

As the world marks International Women’s Day, here is a snapshot of progress since the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action, the most progressive blueprint for advancing women’s rights.

- 25% of seats in national parliaments are held by women - more than double the 11% share in 1995.

- In the last decade, 131 countries have enacted legal and regulatory reforms in support of gender equality.

- The number of girls out of primary school has halved from 65 million to 32 million.

- Two-thirds of secondary school age girls are enrolled in school, up from half - although not all finish.

- 90% of girls aged 15 to 24 are literate, up from 80%.

- The number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births fell 38% between 2000 and 2017.

- About 50 countries have liberalized their abortion laws in the last 25 years, with 18 lifting outright bans.

- Child marriage affects one in five girls today, down from one in four in 1995.

- 34% of girls aged 15 to 19 have undergone FGM in the 31 countries where there is U.N. data, down from 47% in 1995.

- The adolescent birthrate has fallen from 60 to 44 births per 1,000 girls.

- Girls born today can expect to live nearly eight more years than girls born in 1995 (an average of 75.2 years).


- Men hold 75% of parliamentary seats worldwide and 73% of managerial positions.

- Women on average do three times more unpaid care and domestic work than men, limiting access to other opportunities.

- Women are paid 16% less than men on average, rising to 35% in some countries.

- Globally, 62% of women aged 25 to 54 are in the labor force compared to 93% of men - broadly unchanged since 1995.

- Nearly one in five women has faced violence from an intimate partner in the last year.

- At least 60% of countries still discriminate against daughters’ rights to inherit land and other assets in either law or practice.

- Nearly one in four girls aged 15–19 is neither employed, in education or training, compared to one in 10 boys.

- Each year, 12 million girls are married in childhood, and four million are at risk of FGM.

- 970,000 adolescent girls live with HIV compared to 740,000 in 1995. Girls account for nearly three in four new infections among adolescents.

Sources: UN Women, UNICEF, Center for Reproductive Rights

Reporting by Emma Batha @emmabatha; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit

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