UN Women’s new report, “Progress of the World’s Women 2019-2020: Families in a Changing World”, shows that families, in all their diversity, “can be critical drivers of gender equality, provided decision-makers deliver policies rooted in the reality of how people live today, with women’s rights at their core”, said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
But it also adds that families can also be breeding grounds of conflict, inequality and, far too often, violence.
Anchored in global data, innovative analysis and specific case studies, the report paints a picture of the diversity of families globally and provides recommendations to support laws and policies that meet the needs of all family members, especially women and girls, and concrete proposals for implementation.
“Around the world, we are witnessing concerted efforts to deny women’s agency and their right to make their own decisions in the name of protecting ‘family values’”, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka stated.
Today, three billion women and girls live in countries where rape within marriage is not explicitly criminalized. But injustice and violations take other forms as well. In one-out-of-five countries, girls do not have the same inheritance rights as boys, while in a total of 19 others, women are legally required to obey their husbands. Moreover, in developing countries, about one-third of married women report having little or no say over their own healthcare decisions.
The report observed that the average marriage age has increased in all regions while birth rates have declined, and women overall have increased economic autonomy. Globally, 38 per cent of households are couples with children; and 27 per cent are extended families, including other relatives.