Women's rights

Background: Worldwide discrimination of women

Egyptian women demonstrating

International studies and estimates show that, in much of the world, women are still being discriminated and disenfranchised.

The majority of the world’s poorest people and most of those who are illiterate are women. Each year around 300,000 women die from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth, 99 per cent of them in developing countries. Violence against women and harmful traditional practices are still widespread.

Around the world women carry out by far the largest proportion of work – but on average they earn 23 per cent less than men. In some regions women produce up to 80 per cent of food – in total, however, they own but an infinitesimal proportion of land and global assets.

Women have also not yet attained equality in the political and in the economic sphere. Only some 23 per cent of all parliamentarians worldwide are women; very few are heads of state or government.

In many places women’s economic potential and capabilities are underestimated and go untapped. Women’s experiences, their creativity and inventiveness are, however, essential for global development and for every vibrant democracy.

Gender equality is a human right. Gender equality helps to greatly improve the quality of life of all people: it reduces poverty, improves education, contributes towards mitigating HIV/AIDS and other diseases, and boosts economic growth. Promoting gender equality is therefore one of the priority areas of German and international development policy.

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