The restriction on the basic rights of women and girls and lack of access to opportunities impede the progress of sustainable development. Women participate in labor markets on an unequal basis and are more likely to work in vulnerable, low-paid or undervalued jobs. In most countries, women are underrepresented in managerial positions, STEM careers and in politics. Women in developing countries spend four times as many hours on unpaid work as men.
In developing countries, reproductive health problems are a leading cause of poor health and death for women and girls of childbearing age. While child marriage rates have declined, they remain high in some regions including Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, which limits educational and employment opportunities. According to the WHO, 35% of women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexually intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence.
Opportunities & Challenges
Obstacles to women’s social, economic and political empowerment are many, and cultural and social norms are two of the major ones. Challenges and opportunities include:
Access to ICT: Lack of ICT access disproportionately affects women and is the third most important development issue for women after poverty and violence. Cost remains the biggest barrier to women owning a mobile phone or having access to the internet. Other barriers include social norms and lack of digital literacy. Economic opportunity: Access to ICT provides the means for women to access markets and business services, in turn opening up income opportunities. For example, a UN Women/CISCO Networking Academy training program in Morocco enabled 60% of the graduating students to gain access to the job market within three months after graduation.
Financial inclusion and access: Women tend to have less access to formal financial services, despite often being responsible for spending the majority of family income. This lack of access remains a barrier to achieving equal rights.
Sexual and reproductive health: Denial of reproductive rights exacerbates poverty and gender inequality. Fully addressing the unmet contraceptive needs of women in developing regions would prevent 35 million abortions and 76,000 maternal deaths each year. Complications from pregnancy and childbirth is a leading killer of adolescent girls in developing countries. Access to information about safe sex and family planning is often not openly available in communities.
Violence and trafficking: WHO data from 2014 shows that one in three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or abused in some way, most often by someone she knows. Gaps in data undermine efforts to reduce violence – most instances of abuse do not come to the attention of authorities or service providers.
Women are particularly impacted by technology development in India, especially access to micro-financeJaideep Prabhu, Judge Business School
what’s really interesting is innovation in cash-based transfers. aid targets men, but women generally use 90% of family income on their family, compared to men who use 30% on their family.Caroline Rusten, UN Women
Technology in action
Mobile Money can provide women with access to finance, and blockchain technology (e.g. VipiCash) holds promise to enable secure money transfer so women have control over their own money.
Wearables and mobile tracking can improve the safety of women, providing an easy way to get in touch with friends in difficult situations and a safety net when travelling alone.
Data and social networking tools can be used to map and share incidents of violence in public places and allow women to make better informed decisions on where to travel in a city.Get Involved