The following gives a statistical overview of women’s rights, and how women are doing around the world. There is a lot of room for improvement.

Here are some current laws and statistics suggesting that there has been progress, but that there remains significant room for improvement.

Since the 1995 Beijing Conference, 58 countries have adopted national legislation or policies to address women’s rights.
The United States is among those countries that do not constitutionally guarantee equal rights for women.

Since 1995, 26 countries have passed laws to curb domestic violence.
Domestic violence is the leading cause of death for women ages 14-44 around the world.

Women’s economic activity has increased worldwide, with their labor force participation rate increasing from 35.6% in 1970 to 39.5% in 1990.
Today, women’s earnings equal only 75% of men’s earnings for equal work. More than 70% of the 1.3 billion people in the world that live in poverty are women.

Global rates for female literacy have increased by more than two thirds in the past two decades. In developing countries, the gaps between women and men in adult literacy and school enrollment were halved between 1970 and 1990.
More than two-thirds of the world’s 960 million illiterate adults are women. Nearly 40% of the female population in developing countries is still illiterate. While 96% of boys receive at least some level of primary schooling, only 76% of girls do.

Only 9 out of 173 parliaments worldwide do not have women members.
The percentage of women in parliament around the globe has declined from almost 15% in 1988 to less than 12% in 1997.

There has been a sharp reduction in global fertility rates over the past two decades.
More than half a million women die each year for want of adequate reproductive health care.

SOURCES: United Nations Human Development Report (1995 and 1998); The State of World Population 1998 (UNFPA); Survey by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (Geneva), 1997; International Labor Organization Press Release, 1995.