Women around the world enjoy more rights than ever before but still face discrimination in the workplace and far too often fall victim to violence at home, a UN report said Wednesday.
The document issued by UN Women, the new agency headed by Chile’s former president Michelle Bachelet, hailed the progress women have made at the ballot box, noting that “virtually universal” suffrage now is the rule around the world, compared to a century ago when just two countries allowed women to vote.
But even as women enjoy greater influence and political rights, restrictions in the personal realm have slowed their progress.
“Too often women are denied control over their bodies, denied a voice in decision-making and denied protection from violence,” the report said.
“Some 600 million women, more than half the world’s working women, are in vulnerable employment, trapped in insecure jobs, often outside the purview of labor legislation,” it said.
“Millions of women report experiencing violence in their lifetimes, usually at the hands of an intimate partner,” the UN study said.
“Meanwhile, the systemic targeting of women for brutal sexual violence is a hallmark of modern conflicts,” said the report by the group, whose official name is the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.
The report decried “the systemic targeting of women for brutal sexual violence” and called for greater efforts “to make courts more accessible to women, police less hostile to their complaints and other necessary reforms to the administration of justice.”
UN Women began its work in January, hoping to raise the profile of gender-related violence and discrimination.
The document said there are some 186 countries worldwide that have ratified an international convention endorsing the eradication of discrimination against women and advocating gender equality.
The UN study said there are some 127 countries that fail to punish conjugal rape and 61 that limit access to abortion.
The report also found women’s wages are as much as 30 percent less than those received by men for comparable work.