The Clinton Foundation “No Ceilings” report reveals data measuring women and girls’ participation worldwide over the past twenty years. In many ways, there have been significant increases for women and girls, but there are still massive gaps to be filled and progress to be made.
The “No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project” report contains data collected over the past 20 years, following the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, where the 1995 Declaration and Platform for Action made women and girls a priority. The groundbreaking 14th plank of the platform declared “Women’s rights are human rights,” laying the groundwork for governments worldwide to implement action plans for the goal of full participation for women and girls.
Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, called the report “encouraging” and “impressive” in an interview with C-Span this morning. Smeal emphasized the importance of data in effecting change. “You can’t make progress unless you know exactly where you are,” she said.
The “No Ceilings” data-driven approach to gender equality shows that significant gains have been made for women and girls, especially in the maternal mortality rate, which is down 42 percent globally since 1995. Other improvements include global enrollment rates for boys and girls in primary school, which is now almost equal.
There are, however, many areas that still need drastic improvement. The United States is the only developed country that does not offer paid maternity leave, and it is only 1 of 9 countries worldwide that does not provide for paid maternity leave. Equal representation in government worldwide is also lagging, and although the number of women in the United States Congress is at an all-time high, women still only make up around 20 percent of Congress. Furthermore, globally 1 in 4 girls are married before her 18th birthday, and in Niger that rate skyrockets to 3 in 4 girls. Progress is uneven, and women and girls still lag behind -specifically marginalized women.
As far as further progress goes, Smeal is optimistic. “You’d be surprised – just having a goal does help [equality] in many countries,” Smeal said. “I’m very excited about what the new goals will be.”
Media Resources: ClintonFoundation.org; C-Span 3/13/15; Feminist Newswire 12/19/14;