While the status of women and girls around the globe has improved over the last twenty years, more must be done to accelerate the pace of change and enable their full participation in political, civil, economic, social, and cultural life, a report from the and the argues.
Developed in collaboration with the and the at the , the No Ceilings Full Participation Report (51 pages, or ) found that, where countries have committed resources and political capital, progress has been made in closing gender gaps since 1995, when then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton addressed the UN's Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and called on the global community to ensure that "women's rights are human rights." That progress includes advances in women's and girls' legal rights under international agreements, UN resolutions, and constitutional and legislative changes; an almost 50 percent reduction in the global maternal mortality rate; and the near-elimination of the gender gap in primary school enrollment.
At the same time, the report finds that gaps in gender equality remain in the areas of economic participation, leadership, and security; that many countries still have no laws safeguarding women's rights; and that even in countries with such laws, implementation and enforcement often lag. Even where there has been progress, geography, income, age, race/ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, and cultural norms continue to limit a woman's access to equal rights and opportunities.
Released to coincide with the fifty-ninth session of the ' and based on data from a hundred and ninety-seven countries and Beijing Platform signatories, the report highlights fundamental issues that must be addressed in order for women and girls to reach their full potential, including human rights guaranteeing autonomy in family and civic life as well as access to education and health care.
Evidence that the full participation of women and girls benefits the stability and prosperity of families and communities is stronger than ever, the report argues, and further efforts are needed to raise women's labor participation rate, which has stagnated globally over the last two decades; close gender gaps in wages and the share of unpaid and domestic labor; and increase women's access to family assets, resources, and technology.
"The barriers that exist despite overwhelming evidence that economies and GDPs grow when women and girls are empowered to participate are among the most strident that we confront across the world," said Clinton Foundation vice chair Chelsea Clinton at "Not There Yet: A Data Driven Analysis of Gender Equality," the Clinton Foundation's official report release event.
"We want to really challenge all of you," said Rodham Clinton, "because we've made real progress, but [we need to] look at the data and understand how much more there is to do, that we're not there yet."