The new movie Suffragette tells the story of the vote for women in the UK – but what are the big global issues in the quest for gender equality today?
In 1918, sisters Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst assisted in the fight for UK women to get the vote. This groundbreaking achievement has now been committed to the big screen in a movie starring Poverty is Sexist campaign supporter Meryl Streep.
Time Out describes the movie as “not a pretty-pretty sugarcoated period drama.” Here at ONE we can’t wait to see these women in action – it also stars awesome British actors Helena Bonham-Carter and Carey Mulligan.
Mulligan, who plays working-class housewife Maud in the movie, recently expressed her disbelief that the story of the suffragettes had not yet been told on the big-screen, critiquing the “sexist film industry” that had until now deemed the historical moment “not financially viable.”
Strong words from the Oscar nominated actress who, like the character she plays, is committed to the quest for gender equality.
But what are the big challenges for women in developing countries today?
We know that poverty is sexist – it hits girls and women hardest, and that we won’t end extreme poverty unless we make things more equal. World leaders have just agreed 17 new Global Goals for a better world, and number 5 is to do exactly this – achieve gender equality and empower women and girls by 2030.
So what will it take to achieve this?
In the least-developed countries, just 26% of girls go to secondary school, but outside these countries the number is 3 times higher, with 80% of girls getting a secondary education.
For example, Madagascar has 144 times more out-of school girls than Germany, which has 3.5 times the population of Madagascar.
There is a HUGE opportunity here – ensuring that all students in low-income countries, including girls, leave school with basic readings skills could cut extreme poverty globally by as much as 12%.
Ending child marriage and female gentital mutilation
Every year, more than 13 million girls marry before their 18th birthday and in developing countries, that applies to 1 in 3 girls. Many believe that having a husband is the best way to protect girls from sexual violence, and that he will provide for their material needs.
Education helps girls avoid early marriage – each year of secondary school boosts her earning potential by 15-25%
The practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) is widely recognised as a violation of human rights and is illegal in many countries. Yet more than 125 million women have experienced FGM worldwide, and 3 million girls are estimated to be at risk of the procedure every year.
The good news is there has never been a stronger movement to end FGM. NGOs, governments, campaigning groups and the media are working together to support girls at risk, uphold laws and change attitudes.
Nearly 50% of all maternal deaths in the world occur among the 13% of women who live in the least developed countries. Improving maternal and child health is the one the smartest investments we can make to end suffering, save lives and encourage resilient economic growth that benefits all citizens.
Over the past two decades, there has been remarkable progress in combating preventable child deaths: a decline from 12.7 million in 1990 to roughly 6 million in 2014 – sadly maternal health has seen much slower and more uneven progress.
We must keep fighting to change this.
Women’s rights to land and property
Women in developing countries are often denied their rights to own property and land. Female farmers also often struggle to get access to things like fertiliser, tools and credit, making it hard for them to provide for their families and improve their lives.
However, if women farmers worldwide had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields by 20–30%, lifting between 100 and 150 million people out of hunger.
Additionally, when a woman gains more control over her income, she gains more say over important decisions that affect her family, especially her children. Families where women have a say in how money is spent, put more towards food, health, education and children’s nutrition, which benefits the next generation.
Women’s status in society has become the standard by which humanity’s progress toward civility and peace can be measured.
Imagine a world that succeeds in achieving these #GlobalGoals! We hope that Suffragette helps put the quest for gender equality back in the spotlight.