Women are killed and hurt every day, all around the world. Last night on Q&A, Australian of the Year David Morrison said that domestic violence is the greatest social challenge we face in Australia. And it's not just Australia, it's the whole world.
I recently went to the YWCA World Council and asked women from around the world what the biggest issues facing women in their countries were. Here’s an abbreviated list.
- Domestic violence. Intimate partner violence has a pretty high profile in Australia thanks to Australian of the Year (and general legend), Rosie Batty. But it happens in other countries too. It happens in every country, and it’s not ok. The World Health Organisation estimates that 35% of women around the world have experienced intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. That’s one out of every three women. One. Out. Of. Three. On last nights Q and A, David Morrison called out domestic violence as the great social challenge that we face. Check out the clip of the passionate Australian of the year below
- Women in leadership positions. Earlier this year some clever people made a big list of the CEOs of the top 1500 companies in the world. For each woman in that list, there were four people called John, Robert, William or James. What!? Yep, it’s true. We think there should be less CEOs called John and more called Emily or Hannah or Amrita.
- Education. In Australia we are pretty lucky when it comes to education. Everyone has to go to school until they are 15, most people either finish year 12 or do an apprenticeship. When it comes to going to uni, lots of things can get in the way but being a girl usually isn’t one of them. Girls in other countries aren’t so lucky. An estimated 31 million girls of primary school age and 32 million girls of lower secondary school age were out of school in 2013. The things that get in the way are school fees, prioritising boys’ education, cultural norms, violence at school, expectations that girls will help out at home during the day and having children before turning 18.
- Employment. You might have heard that women earn less than men for doing the same job, and assumed that mostly applied to women over 30. Nope. Even at the age of 20 to 24, women are more likely than men to be working part-time or not working because they are at home looking after their kids. Things are even less equal when we look on a global level. Less than half of the women in the world are employed, and those who are working earn only 60 to 75% of what men earn. Yep.
- Child marriage. Ok, so just to explain – if you are 17 and totally love your boyfriend or girlfriend and want to marry them right now, that’s all cool and we hope your wedding is the funnest day ever. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about girls who are teenagers – or even primary-school aged – who are forced into marrying someone much older (like a guy in his 30s or 40s) when they might not want to. The organisation Girls Not Brides says that these girls are “denied their rights to health, education and opportunity, and robbed of their childhood”. Luckily they are working with people in over 70 countries to prevent child marriage, and raising the voices of girls in countries where child marriage is common.Phew, that’s a lot of stuff. And from here there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that this is only five of the things affecting young women around the world, and that there are other things too. The good news is that things are getting better because there are people of all genders all over the world who are working really hard to make things better for young women. And you can be one of them!