New Report: Gender Equality is Key to Maintaining Global Development Gains
Sunday, February 23, 2014 10:00 PM

The United Nations has cautioned that long-term progress in global health and longevity cannot continue unless governments act decisively to protect marginalized groups—including women and girls affected by violence and lacking access to education. The warning accompanied the UN’s release of its first comprehensive report on global development gains and challenges since the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). During the ICPD, 179 governments committed to a 20-year action plan to deliver human rights-based development.

Much of the data compiled for the report shows significant gains since 1994, such as an almost fifty percent drop in maternal mortality, increased opportunities for women and girls to access education and jobs, and slower population growth. However, these gains have not reached the poorest communities, where adolescent girls struggle to receive secondary education, maternal mortality rates remain high, and 222 million women lack access to contraception and family planning. Of greatest concern, the report found that one in three women worldwide had experienced physical and/or sexual violence, most commonly from an intimate partner.
In commenting on the need to end inequities and violence against women before all communities can enjoy improved health and longevity, the United Nations Population Fund Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, stated:  “It’s time . . . to move from words to action. We cannot afford to wait another 20 years to address the inequalities plaguing our collective well-being. Development gains should not be limited to the fortunate; they should reach all populations.”