Women in low- and middle-income countries are 21% less likely to have a mobile phone than men,

07.03.2015 13:10

Women in low- and middle-
income countries are 21
percent less likely to have a
mobile phone than men,
according to a new report on
gender equality by the
United Nations, while overall
only 36 percent of women
(and 41 percent of men) have
access to the Internet.
The U.N. Women report, to
be presented to the United
Nations by Secretary-General
Ban Ki-Moon to U.N. member
states on Monday, does note
that women represent half of
all social media users
worldwide and three-fifths of
So while some progress has
been made toward gender
parity, such as the adoption
of legislation promoting
equality and criminalizing
gender-based violence, the
report--released on Friday to
coincide with International
Women's Day (which is
Sunday) and the 59th
Commission on the Status of
Women--also details specific
areas of failure in 167
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Women are at greater risk
than men online, the report
says, as "technology is also
being used for harmful
purposes, for example, to
perpetrate online
harassment and abuse,
especially towards young
Recent examples include the
so-called GamerGate debacle
that saw women journalists,
developers and critics
receiving rape and death
threats online, and the case
of Canadian teenager
Rehtaeh Parsons, who
committed suicide after
enduring vicious
cyberbullying over photos of
an alleged sexual assault that
wound up online.In terms of violence against
women, there's "still a long
way to go to have the impact
we desire," said Phumzile
Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive
director of U.N. Women,
during a press briefing at the
U.N. headquarters in New
York on Friday. Worldwide,
35 percent of women report
facing some form of physical
or sexual violence from
intimate partners.
"We cannot say that there has
not been a lot of initiatives by
governments, by civil society,
and recently by the private
sector, but a lot of initiatives
don't equal progress," she
Sexual violence continues to
disrupt the progress being
made on women's rights in
certain areas of the world,
and the rise of the extremist
group Islamic State over the
past year has put women in
"the eye of the storm" of
horrific violence and
repression, said Mlambo-
"The nature of the conflict
now has actually changed for
women," she said.
"It is even worse and more
cruel now. It is indeed, in
many parts of the world,
more dangerous to be a
woman than a soldier," she
Hundreds of schoolgirls
kidnapped by another
extremist group, Boko
Haram, remain missing and
many women and girls
belonging to the Yazidi
minority group were forced
into sexual slavery by Islamic
State (ISIS) last year. And
Human Rights Watch recently
confirmed that more than
200 women and girls were
raped by Sudanese army
forces over a 36-hour period
in north Darfur in 2014.
Meanwhile, India's Daughter,
a BBC documentary about
Jyoti Singh, an Indian student
who was raped and killed in a
Delhi bus, was banned in
India this week even as its
broadcast had sparked
international outcry and
The report finds that the
world's governments have
collectively failed to support
gender equality, Mlambo-
Ngcuka said.
While areas of progress
include a decrease in the
mortality rate of infants and
their mothers, better access
to contraception and
increased attention being
given to the plight of the
female children, the report is
a "wake-up call" to the lack of
progress made in the 20
years since 189 countries
gathered in Beijing and
committed to furthering
gender equality in a
landmark statement.
On Thursday, Mlambo-
Ngcuka said no country in the
world can claim to have
gender equality.
Women's participation in the
labor force actually
decreased to 50 percent in
2013 from 52 percent in 1990.
While the largest gain was
seen in the Caribbean and
Latin America, where 54
percent of women were
employed in 2013 compared
to 40 percent in 1990, the
rate of participation fell in
the Middle East and North
Africa, South Asia, Central
Asia and developed regions.
A wage gaps persists
throughout the the world and
could take 70 years to close at
the current rate of change,
according to a report
published Thursday by the
U.N.'s International Labour