The World's Women 2010: Trends and Statistics

  • Edit
  • Discuss
  • History
Jump to: navigation, search


The World’s Women 2010: Trends and Statistics is the fifth issue of The World’s Women and was produced by the United Nations to coincide with the first-ever World’s Statistics Day, 20 October 2010. This issue highlights the differences in the status of women and men in eight areas – population and families, health, education, work, power and decision-making, violence against women, environment and poverty. Analyses are based mainly on statistics from international and national statistical sources.

The World’s Women 2010 shows that progress towards gender equality has been made in some areas, such as school enrolment, health and economic participation. At the same time the report shows that much more needs to be done to close the gender gap in critical areas such as power and decision-making and violence against women.

Executive summary

In the Beijing Declaration adopted in 1995 by the Fourth World Conference on Women, participating governments expressed their commitment “to advance the goals of equality, development and peace for all women everywhere in the interest of humanity”. To assess whether these goals are being achieved, The World’s Women is produced by the United Nations every five years, as called for in the Beijing Platform for Action.

The World’s Women 2010: Trends and Statistics presents statistics and analysis on the status of women and men in the world, highlighting the current situation and changes over time. Analyses are based mainly on statistics from international and national statistical agencies. The report covers several broad policy areas – population and families, health, education, work, power and decision-making, violence against women, environment and poverty.

Population and families

  • The world’s population tripled in the period 1950–2010 to reach almost 7 billion.
  • There are approximately 57 million more men than women in the world, yet in most countries there are more women than men.
  • There is a “gender spiral”, with more boys and men in younger age groups and more women in the older age groups.
  • Fertility is steadily declining in all regions of the world, though it still remains high in some regions of Africa.
  • Life expectancy is steadily rising, with women living longer than men.
  • International migration is increasing. There are more and more women migrants, and in certain areas they outnumber men.
  • The age at marriage for women continues to rise – and it remains high for men.
  • In family life women overwhelmingly carry the workload, although in some countries the gap has narrowed significantly.


  • Women live longer than men in all regions.
  • Two out of every five deaths of both women and men in Africa are still caused by infectious and parasitic diseases.
  • Women are more likely than men to die from cardiovascular diseases, especially in Europe.
  • Breast cancer among women and lung cancer among men top the list of new cancer cases globally.
  • Women constitute the majority of HIV-positive adults in sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Middle East.
  • The vast majority of the over half a million maternal deaths in 2005 occurred in developing countries.
  • The proportion of pregnant women receiving prenatal care is on the rise in many regions.
  • Despite intensified efforts for reduction, Africa remains the region with the highest child mortality.
  • Data reveal no significant disparity in the proportion of underweight girls and boys.


  • Two thirds of the 774 million adult illiterates worldwide are women – the same proportion for the past 20 years and across most regions.
  • The global youth literacy rate has increased to 89 per cent, while the gender gap has declined to 5 percentage points.
  • Gaps between girls’ and boys’ primary enrolment have closed in the majority of countries, but gender parity is still a distant goal for some.
  • 72 million children of primary school age are not attending school, out of which over 39 million (or 54 per cent) are girls.
  • While secondary school enrolments show improvement, fewer countries are near gender parity than for primary education.
  • In tertiary enrolment, men’s dominance has been reversed globally and gender disparities favour women, except in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern and Western Asia.
  • Women in tertiary education are significantly underrepresented in the fields of science and engineering; however, they remain predominant in education, health and welfare, social sciences, and humanities and arts.
  • Worldwide, women account for slightly more than a quarter of all scientific researchers – an increase compared to previous decades but still very far from parity.
  • Use of and access to the Internet grew exponentially in the past decade, narrowing the gender digital divide – however, women still do not have the same level of access as men in most countries, whether more or less developed.


  • Globally, women’s participation in the labour market remained steady in the two decades from 1990 to 2010, whereas that for men declined steadily over the same period; the gender gap in labour force participation remains considerable at all ages except the early adult years.
  • Women are predominantly and increasingly employed in the services sector.
  • Vulnerable employment – own-account work and contributing family work – is prevalent in many countries in Africa and Asia, especially among women.
  • The informal sector is an important source of employment for both women and men in the less developed regions but more so for women.
  • Occupational segregation and gender wage gaps continue to persist in all regions.
  • Part-time employment is common for women in most of the more developed regions and some less developed regions, and it is increasing almost everywhere for both women and men.
  • Women spend at least twice as much time as men on domestic work, and when all work – paid and unpaid – is considered, women work longer hours than men do.
  • Half of the countries worldwide meet the new international standard for minimum duration of maternity leave – and two out of five meet the minimum standard for cash benefits – but there is a gap between law and practice, and many groups of women are not covered by legislation.

Power and decision-making

  • Becoming the Head of State or Head of Government remains elusive for women, with only 14 women in the world currently holding either position.
  • In just 23 countries do women comprise a critical mass – over 30 per cent – in the lower or single house of their national parliament.
  • Worldwide on average only one in six cabinet ministers is a woman.
  • Women are highly underrepresented in decision-making positions at local government levels.
  • In the private sector, women continue to be severely underrepresented in the top decisionmaking positions.
  • Only 13 of the 500 largest corporations in the world have a female Chief Executive Officer.

Violence against women

  • Violence against women is a universal phenomenon.
  • Women are subjected to different forms of violence – physical, sexual, psychological and economic – both within and outside their homes.
  • Rates of women experiencing physical violence at least once in their lifetime vary from several per cent to over 59 per cent depending on where they live.
  • Current statistical measurements of violence against women provide a limited source of information, and statistical definitions and classifications require more work and harmonization at the international level.
  • Female genital mutilation – the most harmful mass perpetuation of violence against women – shows a slight decline.
  • In many regions of the world longstanding customs put considerable pressure on women to accept abuse.


  • More than half of rural households and about a quarter of urban households in sub-Saharan Africa lack easy access to sources of drinking water, and most of the burden of water collection falls on women.
  • The majority of households in sub-Saharan Africa and in Southern and South-Eastern Asia use solid fuels for cooking on open fires or traditional stoves with no chimney or hood, disproportionately affecting the health of women.
  • Fewer women than men participate in high-level decision-making related to the environment.


  • Households of lone mothers with young children are more likely to be poor than households of lone fathers with young children.
  • Women are more likely to be poor than men when living in one-person households in many countries from both the more developed and the less developed regions.
  • Women are overrepresented among the older poor in the more developed regions.
  • Existing statutory and customary laws limit women’s access to land and other types of property in most countries in Africa and about half the countries in Asia.
  • Fewer women than men have cash income in the less developed regions, and a significant proportion of married women have no say in how their cash earnings are spent.
  • Married women from the less developed regions do not fully participate in intrahousehold decision-making on spending, particularly in African countries and in poorer households.

See also

External links

Article Information
Wikiprogress Wikichild Wikigender University Wikiprogress.Stat ProgBlog Latin America Network African Network eFrame