Women around the globe should be celebrated for their extraordinary contributions in all areas of society – as professionals, as bread-winners, as caregivers and caretakers.
But we must also focus on the stark reality that women suffer disproportionately from poor access to health services, discrimination, the effects of war, and, at times, victimization by harmful traditions. It is important to keep in mind that behind every statistic listed below, there is a heartbreaking story to be told.
- More than 530,000 women die in childbirth every year – tragically, the vast majority of these deaths are avoidable with simple and cost-effective health interventions.
- More than 100 million women in the developing world, about 17 percent of all married women would prefer to postpone their next pregnancy or not have any more children but are not using a modern method of contraception.
- It is estimated that up to 100,000 maternal deaths could be avoided each year if women who did not want children used effective contraception.
- One harmful outcome of unintended pregnancy is abortion – an estimated 18 million abortions take place each year in the developing world, contributing to high rates of death and injury.
- In sub-Saharan Africa, approximately 58 percent of all people living with HIV are female. In some countries, girls between the ages of 15 and 19 have three to six times higher HIV prevalence than boys their age.
- More than 80,000 women suffer complications during pregnancy including obstetric fistula. The consequences of this condition, when untreated, are life shattering. Many times the child dies, and the mother has lifelong reproductive and urinary complications. But it can be prevented through expanded access to modern methods of family planning, raising the age of marriage and can be treated with proper medical attention.
- An estimated 52 million girls under the age of 18 years of age are married off by their families each year. Likewise, several hundreds of thousands of girls and women are trafficked every year as illegal workers and/or forced into prostitution.
- An estimated 100 million to 140 million women and girls undergo female genital mutilation/cutting each year and thousands more are at risk.
Despite these startling statistics we know that women around the world have an undying spirit, are surmounting obstacles, and are committed to making their lives, their families, and their communities better. President Obama stated, “…we must also recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights and opportunities as our sons: the chance to attain a world-class education; to have fulfilling careers in any industry; to be treated fairly and paid equally for their work; and to have no limits on their dreams. That is what I want for women everywhere.”
The 16 Days Campaign to End Violence Against Women: From 25 November to 10 December, USAID will post a blog each day that aims to prove a single point: The human race cannot progress when half of the world population lives without the same rights and respect afforded to its male counterpart. If you are moved by what you read and want to share, we’ve made it easy for you. Click here to find out how.