WOMENAID INTERNATIONAL

THESE FACTS WILL OPEN YOUR EYES

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Words advocating the interests of women, however plausible and persuasive they may be, need numbers and facts to influence policy - and change the world. The following facts show how different women's situations are from men's - mainly because of the lack of opportunities.

The agenda must be to invest more in women, and thus to broaden their opportunities. Investing in wider opportunities for women, in health, in education, in formal and informal work and in decision making at all levels, is far more than an investment in women, it is an investment in their families and societies. It is a move toward equitable, sustainable development. It is a way to lift people out of poverty.

TWO-THIRDS OF THE WORLD’S ILLITERATES,
900 MILLION, ARE WOMEN. IN SEVENTEEN COUNTRIES
OVER 90% OF WOMEN ARE ILLITERATE. UNESCO

Women’s ability to read and write was more closely related than even their income to their fertility, use of contraception - and their own children’s health.

World Fertility Survey

300 million women in developing countries have no access to family planning services. 90% of world population growth is occurring in the poorest countries. If women were empowered to make a choice population growth would be reduced by 30% in developing countries.

World Fertility Survey, UNFPA

A woman’s choice of the number of children she wants is often over-ruled by the preferences of her husband. The sheer number of abortions, estimated at around 50 million a year, is a poignant testimony to the lengths some women will go to stop themselves having another baby.

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Women understand only too well what incessant childbearing can do to their own and their children’s health. A survey of women in 31 countries found that, in the space of just one generation, the average number of children that women want has dropped from 6 to 4, and a quarter of married women are now using contraception.

World Fertility Survey


500,000 women die from complications in pregnancy, childbirth and unsafe abortions annually. Another 5 to 7 million women each year become handicapped or crippled from childbirth related health impairments.

Dr Nafis Sadik, 'Investing in women: The focus of the '90s'
United Nations Population Fund 1989.

Over 60% of all women and girls in the world live under conditions which threaten their health.

Poor, Powerless and Pregnant, Population Crisis Committee,
Briefing Paper 20. New York, 1988

IF YOU EDUCATE A MAN, YOU EDUCATE ONE PERSON;
IF YOU EDUCATE A WOMAN, YOU EDUCATE AN ENTIRE FAMILY.

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In Africa, a woman of child bearing age has a 1:20 chance of dying in childbirth, in sharp contrast to a woman in an industrialised country whose risk stands at 1:2000.

The World's Women,1996, UN

The death of a mother has dramatic consequences on the family, especially the children. When a mother dies it doubles the death rate of her surviving sons and quadruples that of her daughters.

Global Commission on Women's Health

A STUDY IN THE INDIAN HIMALAYAS FOUND THAT ON SMALL FARMS "A PAIR OF BULLOCKS WORKS 
1064 HOURS, A MAN 1212 HOURS AND 
A WOMAN 3485 HOURS IN A YEAR."

C. Joseph & K. Prasad (Eds) Women,
Work and Inequity:the reality of gender,1995

"A person does not walk very far or fast on one leg. How can we expect half the people to be able to develop a nation? Yet the reality is that women are usually left aside when development needs are discussed".

Julius Nyerere, Former President of Tanzania, 1987.

Women are central to the development process and are the principal custodians of Africa’s food system. In Africa, they produce 80% of the food; carry 90% of the drinking water and fuel; tend small livestock; trade in commodities; raise children and maintain the household. Yet many of the debates and discussions on future strategies fail to recognise the contributions and needs of women.

Food Security: African Woman Farmer Symposium,
UN Special Session on the Critical Economic Situation in Africa

Women subsistence farmers produce more than half of Africa’s food - yet they have received, at times, less than 1 percent of the United Nation’s agricultural allocations for rural women.

Advocates for African Food Security

The introduction of existing labour-saving technologies, improved seeds and fertilisers and simple agronomic practices could lead to yield increases of 50 per cent or more.

UN FAO study by J Dey

WOMEN EXPLAIN THAT THE FOOD THEY GROW IS NOT
WHAT THE LAND WILL YIELD, BUT ONLY AS MUCH AS
THEIR HANDS CAN WEED AND THEIR BACKS CARRY.

Most African farmers, 90% of whom are women, are producing well below the maximum imposed by the existing knowledge of new seed varieties, fertiliser and insecticide use, and farming practices.

World Bank,Toward Sustained Development in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Failure to appreciate the contribution of women to agricultural production can be partly explained by the tendency in official statistics to concentrate on wage labour or cash crop production, which are dominated by men. A report estimates that, on a global basis, almost half the hours worked by women are not counted in official labour statistics.

International Labour Organisation (ILO)

A study of 74 developing countries found that one in five households is headed by a woman: they are either widowed, divorced, separated or abandoned. "These women are trapped in a downward spiral of poverty. Forces beyond their control are pressing them further into poverty every year. Yet the poorer they become the harder they have to work to support their children."

Idriss Jazairy, President,
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

 

EIGHT MILLION CHILDREN DIE EACH YEAR OF DISEASES
THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN PREVENTED BY SUFFICIENT
CLEAN WATER FROM A NEARBY TAP.

UNICEF

25% of people in cities and 71% of those in the countryside of developing countries are without safe water to drink and 47% of town dwellers and 87% of people in rural areas have no adequate sanitation.

World Health Organisation. (WHO)

80% OF ALL DISEASE IN THE WORLD IS ATTRIBUTED TO THE LACK OF CLEAN DRINKING WATER & SANITATION.  

United Nations

Three-quarters of the world’s health problems could be solved by primary health care. But three-quarters of developing countries health budgets are spent on doctors and hospitals. Costing less than two per cent of the money it takes to train a doctor, the logic of training women as health workers is clear

World Health Organisation (WHO)

Primary Health Care placed a spotlight on the causes of disease and it picked out women - standing centre-stage - bearing the brunt of the responsibility for their families health. Women - as cooks and feeders of children, as fetchers of water and firewood, as custodians of cleanliness and hygiene, as teachers of health habits. Women are the vast untapped resources for development.

World Health Organisation. (WHO)

THERE ARE 50 MILLION REFUGEES AND DISPLACED
PEOPLE IN THE WORLD TODAY. OF THESE
MORE THAN 80% ARE WOMEN AND CHILDREN.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR)

Globally, at least 2 million girls a year suffer genital mutilation, approximately 6000 new cases every day - five girls every minute. An estimated 85 to 114 million girls and women in the world are genitally mutilated.

Global Commission on Women's Health

Every minute of the day, every day of the year, two women become infected by HIV and every two minutes a woman dies from Aids.

Global Commission on Women's Health

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A decade ago women seemed to be on the periphery of the AIDS epidemic but in 1994 half of the newly HIV infected adults were women. By the year 2000 the projections are that the majority of AIDS infected people will be women - reaching a figure of 13 million in the first quarter of the new millennium. 4 million women will have died.

World Health Organisation (WHO), 1994

Because female physiology appears to be more vulnerable to HIV infection transmission of HIV from men to women is as much as two to ten times more efficient than from women to men. "It is a shocking fact that more than 50% of people newly infected with HIV are aged between 15 and 24 ...two girls are infected for every boy."

Susan Timberlake, 'Human Rights and HIV/AIDS'
World Health Organisation, September 1996.

Discrimination against women shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
of Discrimination against Women.

When the United Kingdom's former Foreign Secretary, Sir Geoffrey Howe, was visiting Pakistan during Benazir Bhutto's term as Prime Minister, his wife asked a little boy what he would like to be when he grew up. "A truck driver maybe," mused the child. Surprised at his modest ambitions, Lady Howe persisted: "But surely you would like to go into politics, even become Prime Minister?" Back came the answer, "No, that's women's work."

Anecdote quoted by Dr Nafis Sadik, Executive Director UNFPA.

Compiled by WomenAid International

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