How Far American Women Have Come in the Last 20 years — and How Far They’re Still Behind

By Danielle Paquette
from The Washington Post

Twenty years ago, Hillary Clinton famously called for global gender equality at a United Nations conference in Beijing: “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s right are human rights.”

On Tuesday, just after the Clinton Foundation released a status report on the well-being of women worldwide, the former secretary of state had planned to mark the anniversary with similar rhetoric at UN headquarters in New York City.

Hundreds of business leaders and human rights advocates flocked to New York this week for the Commission on the Status of Women’s annual session and would rather the focus stay on women’s issues, at home and abroad. Gender parity is part of a platform on which Clinton will (likely)run for president. Her message is bolstered by more than a million data points, published Monday. It illustrates how far women have come since 1995 — and how much more progress is necessary to close gaps in health, education and economic opportunity.

[Chelsea Clinton on why women in the U.S. shouldn’t mistake progress for success]

But that message was buried this week under about 60,000 e-mails. Google “Hillary Clinton UN” and then sift through dozens of stories about her decision to use a private e-mail account for work-related correspondence as secretary of state. So, for the data junkies at home, we’ve rounded up six highlights from No Ceilings: The Full Participation Report, produced in partnership with the Gates Foundation.

The U.S. is the only industrialized country not to mandate paid leave

Only nine countries don’t have laws that guarantee some paid leave for new mothers: the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Suriname, Tonga — and the United States. “Labor policies that facilitate or hinder working adults’ ability to balance jobs and caregiving have a particularly large impact on women,” the report states. “Paid maternal leave supports women’s continued employment, job stability, and longer-term wage growth.” [Related: The disparities of paid leave: The rich get to heal and the poor get fired]

Our gender wage gap is shrinking but remains wider than in other countries

America’s gender wage gap has been steadily shrinking for decades. In 1980, men earned an average of inflation-adjusted $18.57 per hour, while women earned $11.95, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By 2012, hourly pay for men shrank to an average of $17.79, compared with women’s earnings of $14.90. The gap is narrower for millennial men and women. Women ages 25 to 34 earned 93 percent of the hourly earnings of men their age in 2012, Pew research showed. The proportion for women of all ages, however, was 84 percent of men’s earnings. Some economists believe a lack of family-friendly policies in the U.S. workforce (and the ever precarious work-life balance) drive highly educated, highly skilled women to eventually quit or settle. Here’s how we stack up against other high-income countries:

American women go to work. And babysit. And care for elderly relatives. And…

That Modern Women Literally Never Stop Working stereotype? The one tht someone made this Sarah Jessica Parker movie about? Data suggests it reflects reality. And might be worse than you imagined: Women worldwide, whether or not they have jobs, spend up to five more hours on unpaid domestic work than men, the data showed. American women averaged 3.5 hours. American men, two hours:

Domestic violence affects nearly one-third of women globally

One in three women are affected worldwide are affected by domestic violence, the Clinton report estimated, and the United States performs a bit better than the global average. A recent study found violence against women and children costs the global economy $4 trillion. Women are assaulted by partners, friends and strangers across the globe. The United States is no exception: More than 10 million women and men are victims each year of intimate partner violence, according to the CDC.

The U.S. is behind when it comes to legal protections of gender equality
American men are more likely to support female political candidates

But a quarter of them still prefer guys in public office, the Clinton research found. Seventy-five percent of men surveyed in the United States don’t believe a male political leader does a better job, compared to only nine percent of responders in Egypt. “Social norms about the role of women in public life and beliefs about their ability to be effective leaders continue to limit their leadership potential,” the report said.


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