Women’s rights must become social reality
One billion women worldwide have experienced violence or rape. The Indian student, her brutal rape and her cold-blooded murder outrage the world. “No To Violence” is the name of a UN campaign. Particularly in developing countries, the disregard for women leads to abortion of foetuses, killing at birth or in babyhood, forced marriage and dowry murder. Female genital mutilation, domestic violence or violence at the workplace underline the need for action against violence against women worldwide in 2018 as well. Women’s rights and gender equality are fundamental human rights.
Equality and equal opportunities for women have progressed. There are more female heads of government and female ministers than ever before. But their share of the UN member states is less than 10 percent. The proportion of women in parliaments has risen to 20.7 percent. In Africa’s parliaments the proportion of women is 20.8 percent, in Rwanda even 56.3 percent (Europe 23.6 percent). Discriminatory laws and customs and traditions prevent equal rights, but also harm countries and regions.
Despite all the progress that has been made, women in developing countries still have a long way to go. Women have become more important as an economic factor and labour force, more girls go to school. But: on average, 1,000 women die every day during pregnancy or childbirth. 99 percent of them in developing countries. Improved access to contraceptives can help prevent up to 90 per cent of deaths. Pregnancy and childbirth are among the main causes of death for teenage girls. For every dollar spent on voluntary family planning, USD 30 is saved for health, water and education.
Especially women in rural areas are disadvantaged – in education, income, health or political participation. They make up a quarter of the world’s population. Almost half a billion smallholders and workers without land are women. They make up a large part of the agricultural labour force. It is estimated that if women had the same access to land, water, seeds, advice and resources as men, crop yields could increase by four percent and 150 million more people could be freed from hunger every year. Countries that discriminate against women and deny land ownership or loans have significantly more undernourished children. Only 1 percent of women own land south of the Sahara, 11 percent in Brazil. Only 5 percent of agricultural services are offered to women, only 10 percent of loans to small farmers go to women.
Gender equality and the strengthening of women’s rights are still a goal of Agenda 2030 today. Our goal must be to achieve equal participation of women and men in every society. This is not possible without the contribution of women.