New Internationalist

Women - The Facts

July 1980

Information on the world’s women.

If women are to be fully integrated into active economic, social and political participation in planning and decision making of their societies it is imperative that their presence in demographic and other statistics is "unveiled" to provide a more valid base for programmes concerned with improving women’s lot in the world … To say that "women don’t count" is often the literal truth, thus giving substance to the cliche that they are ‘the forgotten 50 per cent’ of the world’s population.
-Gustavo Perez-Ramirez, Deputy Director, UN Population Division.

The trouble is that even accurate statistics and methodologically sound research most often fall on deaf ears. In this respect, statistics relating to women are similar to those of casualties of war. There seems to be an inability, particularly amongst politicians, diplomats and academics, to see the relevance or point of such information or even in a sense to hear it.
-Elizabeth Reid, Principal Officer, World Conference to UN Decade for Women.

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——- Apartheid by Sex

——- Family Planning

Inmost developing countries, more than half the married women aged 14 to 19 don’t want any more children. But of those, only about half are using any modern contraceptive method.

——- Education

Two out of every three illiterate people in the world are women.

——- Food

Almost all the training and technology for improving agriculture is given to men …

50 per cent of the agricultural production and all of the food processing is the responsibility of the women.

——- Health

80 per cent of health budgets are used to cure the illnesses of a minority through the training and equipping of doctors who are usually men … 80 per cent of all illness in the Third World could be prevented by better nutrition, water supply, sanitation, immunisation and preventive health education - the responsibility for which is usually taken by women.

——- Population

Research and advice on family planning is usually directed towards women … Decisions on family size are usually taken by men.

Figures extracted from the ‘World’s Women Data Sheet’ published by the Population Reference Bureau in collaboration with UNICEF. Copies of the complete Data Sheet may be obtained by writing to the PRB at 1337 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. 20036, USA (price $ 1.00 or equivalent).

This feature was published in the July 1980 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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This article was originally published in issue 089

New Internationalist Magazine issue 089
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