International Women’s Day falls on 8 March each year and is a good
opportunity to remind ourselves of the challenges facing women in
developing countries. This year ActionAid have published a report
called Hit or Miss which highlights the disproportionate effect of
poverty on the lives of women and children and which argues that if the
Millennium Development Goals are to be met, then a focus on women is
essential and systematic discrimination against women and girls needs
to be tackled. You can download the report from the ActionAid site here.
The statistics highlighted by ActionAid are sobering:
- Women grow 60% of the world’s food but own 1% of the land.
- 60% of people with HIV and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa are women.
- 70% of those living in poverty around the world are women.
- One in five women will be subject to rape or attempted rape during her lifetime.
- 41 million girls worldwide are still denied a primary education and two thirds of the world’s illiterate young people are women.
- In Pakistan and India, girls have a 30-50% higher chance of dying before their fifth birthday than boys.
- Women and children in Africa spend 40 billion hours collecting water per year – equivalent to a year’s labour for France’s entire workforce.
You can find out more about the work that ActionAid is doing on women’s rights here.
One of my dreams for the Sophia Network is that while we support and encourage one another here, we’ll be able to take positive action to connect with women in developing countries whose challenges make ours fade into insignificance.