Overview of data resources on gender equality across the world
Published 18 January 2021
Facts and figures
The 2021 Generation Equality Forum, hosted by Mexico and France, is now just a few months away. Focus 2030 has brought together key data for each of the six Action Coalitions of the Forum, namely: Gender-Based Violence; Economic Justice and Rights; Bodily Autonomy and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR); Feminist Action for Climate Justice; Technology and Innovation for Gender Equality; and Feminist Movements and Leadership.
The World Bank publishes a series of sex-disagreggated and gender indicators on agriculture, education, health, social development and poverty. The World Bank Development Indicators also contain a dedicated section on « Gender Equality». For example:
In 1975, 70% of girls and young women aged between 15 and 24 were literate (compared to 84.4% of boys and young men). This rose to 78.9% in 1990 (87.4% for boys and young men) and to 90.3% in 2018 (92.9% for boys and young men).
In 2019, 25.7% of women and 27.6% of men in paid employment worked in agriculture.
1.4% of women and 3.4% of men who were company managers.
34.5% of businesses are owned by women in the world.
In 2018, 51.9% of those over 15 with HIV were women, a percentage which has been constantly growing since 1990 when 44% of HIV-positive people were female.
Birthrates for adolescent girls aged 15-19 have fallen from 86 births per 1000 girls in 1990 to 42 per 1000 in 2018.
Equal Measures 2030 provides data on gender equality and the Sustainable Development Goals from 129 countries.
2.1 billion girls and women live in 67 countries around the world which, at their current pace, will not reach key gender equality targets by 2030 (access to contraception, education, political leadership, workplace equality, and safety).
13 million girls and young women under the age of 20 have given birth in 2019.
51 million girls and women live in countries that do not have a single female minister, and over 650 million girls and women in 64 countries have never had an elected or appointed female head of state or government.
28% of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) students are female.
80% of people displaced by climate change are female.
The OECD 2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index project provides data and country factsheets analysing the level of discrimination in laws, social norms and practices in 180 countries, across a variety of different themes: child marriage, inheritance, unpaid domestic or healthcare work, domestic violence, reproductive health rights, access to property rights, land and non-land assets, the right to work, participate in politics, or access to justice). Key global data are available here and country-level data are presented in the Gender equality, institutions and development database.
In 2019, 16% of girls aged between 15 and 19 were married before the age of 18, compared to 19% in 2012. At this rate, it will take 100 years to end child (forced) marriage.
In 27 pays, married women are legally obliged to obey their husbands, and in 16 of those countries, they can face legal action if they do not.
31% of women have already experienced violence at the hands of their partner. 27% of women say that men have the right to beat their wife in certain circumstances (for example leaving the house without telling him, neglecting the children, arguing with him, refusing sexual relations, or burning meals).
In 119 of the 180 countries covered by the database, abortion is only available under certain conditions.
In 88 of the 180 countries, women cannot carry out certain jobs in the same conditions as men, and in 24 countries, they require their husband’s or legal tutor’s permission to work.
47% of the world’s population think that men are better political decision-makers than women.
In 125 countries, women are likely to feel unsafe when walking alone at night in their neighbourhood.
The World Bank also collects information about legal protection against gender-based violence in 190 countries, published as an annex to the Women, Business and the Law report:
31 countries do not have any specific legislation on sexual harassment.
In 67 pays, domestic violence is not considered a criminal offence and in 56 countries, there is no dedicated court or even specific procedure for dealing with domestic violence.
UNICEF publishes data on challenges faced by children and young adults:
Among women aged 20-24, 5% were married or in-union before the age of 15, and 20% before the age of 18 (rising to 12% and 38% respectively in least developed countries). (source)
At least 200 million girls and women have experienced female genital mutilation (FGM) in 31 countries for which representative data is available (34%, compared to 49% 30 years ago). Excision affects almost every woman in certain countries like Somalia (98%) Guinea (95%) or Djibouti (94%). However, in 23 of the 30 countries, the majority of women and girls who have heard of excision think that the practice must be ended. (source)
In a third of the countries sampled, at least 5% of women aged between 18 and 29 have been victims of sexual violence before the age of 18. (source)
Justice and Rights
ILOSTAT hosts data from the International Labour Organization on employment, the informal economy, social protection, youth unemployment, education and training, etc. (Specific information on women’s employment is available here)
In 2019, women represented 50% of the working-age population, but only 39% of those in employment, and 28% of management roles. (source)
In 2017, 34% of young women aged between 15-24 were not in employment, education or training (NEETs), compared to 10% for young men. (source)
In 2018, women were more exposed than men to informal employment
in over 90% of sub-Saharan African countries, 89 % of Southern Asian countries, and almost 75% of Latin American countries. (source)
Across the world, 21.7 % of working-age women perform unpaid care work on a full-time basis, compared to 1.5% of working-age men. Between 1997 and 2012, the time that women devoted to housework and caregiving fell by only 15 minutes per day, while for men it increased by just eight minutes per day. At this pace, it is estimated that the gender gap in time spent in unpaid care work will not be closed until 2228 (or in 209 years).
Across the world, there is a gender pay gap between men and women of 18.8%.
The Towards a better future for women and work: Voices of women and men (2016) report from the International Labour Organization and Gallup examines male and female attitudes and perceptions in 142 countries on women and work:
29% of women worldwide would prefer to work at paid jobs, and a similar percentage would prefer to stay at home (27%). 41% of women would prefer to do both. Men also want the same for the women in their families: 28% would like these women to have paid jobs, 29% would like them to stay at home and 38% would prefer they be able to do both.
On average, 83% of women and 77% of men agree that it is acceptable for women in their families to work outside of the home if they wish to. However, in households with children, this percentage drops to 73% for men (compared to 81% for men from households without children).
For 22% of the world’s population, work-family balance is the biggest challenge faced by women in paid work. In second place, 12% say the biggest issue is affordable care for children or relatives, and in third place with 10% is the view that women are treated unfairly at work.
The (2020) Women, Business and the LawWorld Bank dataset provides information on the laws and regulations that restrict women’s economic opportunities across 190 economies. Data categories include: mobility, workplace, pay, marriage, parenthood, entrepreneuriat, assets and pensions.
On average, women have just three-fourths of the legal rights afforded to men in terms of economic security, career growth, and work-life balance.
Analysis shows that where the law ensures greater equality of economic opportunity between women and men, female labour force participation is higher. This result holds after taking into account important factors—including income levels, fertility rates, and female education. Having fewer discriminatory laws and policies in place also results in larger investments in health and education (both for women themselves and for the next generation), lower rates of sexually transmitted diseases, lower rates of maternal mortality and higher levels of female education.
115 of the economies covered by the dataset guarantee paid maternity leave of 14 weeks or more. But only in 97 of these countries is maternity leave provided in full by the state. And only 38 countries prohibit the dismissal of pregnant workers.
105 economies out of 190 offer paternity leave, of an average of 5 days. But only 43 economies have paid parental leave that can be shared by mothers and fathers.
In 102 countries, there is no legislation mandating equal remuneration for work of equal value.
In 43 countries, sons and daughters do not have the same inheritance rights, and in 44 countries, widows do not have the same inheritance rights as widowers as surviving spouses.
In 85 countries, periods of absence due to child care are not accounted for in pension benefits.
The World Values Survey analyses public opinion from 60 countries (for the last wave of the survey) on many issues, including women’s economic participation:
43.5% of men and 41.7% of women think that a child of pre-school age will suffer if their mother works.
21.5% of men and 16% of women think that a university education is more important for a boy than for a girl.
36.9% of men and 26% of women think that men make better business executives than women do.
63.5% of men and 62.9% of women think that being a housewife is just as fulfilling as working for pay.
36.6% of men and 30.2% of women think that when employment is scarce, men should have more right to a job than women.
37.1% of men and 36.3% of women think that if a woman earns more money than her husband, it’s almost certain to cause problems.
o 19.6% of men and 18.8% of women say they are an active member of a labour (trade) union.
The (2017) Global Financial Inclusion Database from the World Bank brings together data on financial inclusion for women and men from 140 countries:
72% of men and 65% of women over the age of 15 have a bank account.
52% of men and 45% of women accumulated savings in the previous year. 17% of men and 11% of women saved in order to launch, run or grow an agricultural holding or business, and 22% of men and 19% of women put money away for their retirement.
38% of men and 46% of women say that they do have any contingency funding to fall back on.
52% of men and 43% of women own a debit card. 20% of men and 17% of women possess a credit card.
Bodily Autonomy and
Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)
The DHS ProgramSTATcompiler presents data from the Demographic and Health Surveys from 90 countries, focusing on fertility, family planning, reproductive health, domestic violence, women’s empowerment, etc.
In 2017, the global maternal mortality ratio was 211 per 100,000 live births. The rate was over 1,000 deaths in South Sudan, Chad and Sierra Leone.
Between 2013 and 2018, 81% of births were attended by skilled health personnel, compared to 64% between 2000 and 2006.
The United Nations Population FundWorld Population Dashboard provides data on fertility, sexual and reproductive health, or sex ratios of women in the population. For example:
In 2020, among women aged 15-49, the average contraceptive prevalence rate (all methods) was 49%, rising to 63% for those married or in-union. 45% of women use a modern method of contraception, rising to 57% for married women or in-union women.
Across the world, 9% of women aged between 15-49 express unmet need for family planning. This percentage is slightly higher for married or in-union women, at 11%.
The World Values Survey analyses public opinion from 60 countries (for the last wave of the survey) on many subjects, including abortion. For example:
37.6% of men (37.7% of women) worldwide say that it is never justified to have an abortion. 9.9% say that it is always justified (10.6% of women) and 49.7% of men are in between (compared to 49.4% of women).
for Climate Justice
The FAO’s Gender and Land Rights Database (GLRD) presents data on land ownership and use by women and men. The database will be updated soon.
Between 1990-2011, women represented 43% of agricultural workers, but only 15% of agricultural land holders.
The Women’s Environment and Development Organization Gender Climate Tracker provides data and analysis on women’s participation in climate diplomacy and on gender-responsive climate policy.
At the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP 24) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2018, women made up around 40% of national Party delegates. 30% of Heads of Delegation were women. In 2008, these two statistics were 32% and 15% respectively. At this pace, equality will only be achieved in 2042.
In 2018, women were under-represented in many UNFCCC national Party delegations, in particular in senior roles and in delegations from the most climate-vulnerable countries.
Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) represent each country’s commitments on reducing national emissions and climate change adaptation. Analysis of 190 NDCs shows that 64 countries refer to women or gender. Among those 64, 34 countries portray women as a vulnerable group, just 15 refer to their role as active parties in decisions or policies on climate change, and only 6 describe women as agents or actors of change.
The World Values Survey analyses public opinion from 60 countries (for the last wave of the survey) on many subjects, including membership of different organizations:
20.1% of men and 19.5% of women say they are active members of environmental organizations.
Technology and Innovation
for Gender Equality
UNESCO offers statistical insights into education, science, culture and communication.
According to the Women In Science database, less than 30% of researchers in the world are women.
Women in low- and middle-income countries are, on average, 10% less likely to own a mobile phone than men, and 26% less likely to use mobile internet than men. Cost remains the greatest barrier to owning a mobile.
Closing the gender gap in low- and middle-income countries in mobile ownership and mobile internet use would generate an estimated incremental revenue of $15 billion over the coming year.
73% of activities in the accommodation and restaurants sector, which employs a large proportion of women, are susceptible to automation. Conversely, education and health and social work, which are highly feminized
sectors, exhibit the lowest risk of automation due to the personal interaction component that is embedded in such care-related work.
The Global Financial Inclusion Database (2017) from the World Bank brings together data on the use of digital technology for business in 140 countries:
56% of men and 49% of women over the age of 15 have made or received a digital payment in the last year.
6% of men and 3% of women over the age of 15 have a mobile bank account.
Movements and Leadership
The Inter-Parliamentary Union database provides information on female politicians, ministers or heads of state and government, and on female portfolios and electoral quotas.
In 2020 across the world, women represented 24.9% of parliamentarians, 20.5% of parliamentary speakers, 20.5% of parliamentary deputy speakers, 6.6% of heads of state and 6.2% of heads of government.
In 2014, only 0.5% ($192 million) of aid for gender equality went to women’s rights organizations in the North and South, compared to 1.2% in 2011. 92% of the funding for gender equality went to international NGOs or NGOs in the donor country, and only 8% to NGOs in developing countries.
Women have been critical to the furtherance of human rights worldwide, but, because of the way aspects of their identities and their actions are perceived, they continue to face systematic discrimination, marginalization and repression.
The UIS eAtlas of Gender Inequality in Education underlines the fact that 15 million of girls aged between 6-10 will never set foot in a classroom, compared to around 10 million boys, if current trends continue.
The UIS factsheet no. 56 provides additional data on out-of-school children. For example:
In 2018, 9% of primary school-age girls and 7% of school-age boys were out of school, compared to 12% and 18% respectively in 2000.
The male and female out-of-school rates for the lower secondary and upper secondary school-age populations are now nearly identical (at 16% and 35% respectively)
Inequality continues across all levels of schooling in certain regions and countries. The biggest gap between girls and boys is in central Asia, both at primary as well as secondary level.
The I’d blush if I could: closing gender divides in digital skills through education report presents data on inequality in higher education, revealing that girls and young women are overrepresented as students in the fields of Education (70.2%), Health and Welfare (68.9%), Art and Humanities (61.7%), Social Sciences (61.3%) and Natural Science 56.2%). Conversely, women and girls are minority students in the fields of STEM (36.2%) and ICT (29.2%).