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raceAhead: A New UN Report Shows U.S. Women Falling Behind

February 14, 2018, 6:15 PM UTC

UN Women, the organization dedicated to issues of gender equity around the world, has released a new report today that shows that women around the world remain underpaid, under-supported and likely to be victims of violence.

Turning promises into action: Gender equality in the 2030 Agenda, is the first data-driven look at the condition of women around the world as considered through the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – among them poverty, social justice, clean water, health, education, and climate change – that were adopted by world leaders in 2015.

Data was collected from some 89 countries, but in-depth case studies were conducted in Colombia, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Uruguay and, in an interesting twist, the United States. The issues will be familiar:

One in five women and girls have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner within the last 12 months. Yet, 49 countries have no laws that specifically protect women from such violence. Despite their increasing presence in public life, women continue to do 2.6 times the unpaid care and domestic work that men do.

But the U.S. data, in particular, shows that many women are struggling, often in ways that are comparable to women in developing nations. Here’s just a sample:

  • The global female homicide rate is 2.3 per 100,000 population, (although, the report states, figures vary widely across and within regions. In the U.S., the female homicide rate stands at 2.1 per 100,000 as of 2010; a figure as high as that of Sudan.
  • While U.S. women of all ages are more likely to live in poverty than men, black and Native American/Alaskan Native women of all ages are disproportionately represented among the poorest, at 27.4% and 28%, respectively.
  • As of 2015, the national average of Americans who did not complete high school is 10.3%. That number drops to 4.1% in wealthy communities and soars to 38.3% for Hispanic women in the poorest quintile.
  • The maternal mortality ratio in the United States increased by 14 % between 1990 and 2015.
  • Globally, women hold an average of 23.7% of parliamentary seats; in the US, women held only 19.4% of congressional seats in 2017.

Every page of this report reaffirms that women’s safety, along with fair and accommodating compensation practices, would go a long way to making sure all women are able to be happy, productive citizens while helping to raise the GDP.

And yet, the violence and underinvestment continue. And even a cursory review of the headlines will show that countries that do have laws protecting women are having trouble enforcing them. It’s the same conundrum in every fight for equity — the business case is clear, but the moral case remains murky, particularly when it comes to making things right.


On Point

Intimate partner violence is a workplace issueWhile we’re discussing what the White House did or did not do about accused spousal abuser Rob Porter, we should also talk about what employers should be doing about the issue within their own ranks. The total costs to the US economy of intimate violence – including medical care, mental health services, and time away from work exceed $8 billion a year. And some 65% of employers don’t have a policy in place. Click through for some good resources and a run-down of the practical and emotional needs that victims often have. It’s a column I’m sad to have to re-run; please read and share. (Thanks to Biz Journals for amplifying.)Fortune

Tami Duckworth: “I can’t technically take maternity leave”
Senator Tami Duckworth sits down with Politico’s Women Rule podcast and explains what it’s like to be a professional in a system which never had to accommodate a pregnant person before. First, she loses all her clout. “If I take maternity leave, then I won’t be allowed to sponsor legislation or vote during that time period,” she says. She’s also not allowed, via Senate rules, to bring her child on the floor, if she needs to vote or speak. “It’s going to change some Senate rules,” Duckworth said.

JPMorgan Chase expands its fund for minority owned businesses
JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest retail bank, has been experimenting with ways to fund promising minority-owned local businesses in previously “unbankable” communities, like Detroit. With some success under their belts, the bank is expanding their Entrepreneurs of Color Fund (EOCF) into San Francisco and the South Bronx, investing $3.1 million and $2 million, respectively, in the two communities. The irreplaceable Matt Heimer has the story.

State lawmakers in North Carolina aim to re-segregate their schools
There really isn’t any other way to read this, according to opponents. State lawmakers are launching a study, looking for ways to split previously merged school systems in the state, into smaller, locally managed systems. “The elephant in the room is we know that these districts were merged in almost every situation out of either legal actions or other kinds of actions regarding racial segregation in education,” Sen. Angela Bryant, a Democrat, said last year.
News Observer

The Woke Leader

The Lorraine Hansberry you never knew
A new PBS documentary called Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart, dashed any notion I had that I understood who Hansberry, the playwright behind A Raisin In The Sun, really was. My experience was enhanced by an online chat led by the great author-scholar Eve Ewing, who was able to provide extraordinary context, particularly to Hansberry’s formative years in Chicago, where she witnessed the fight for housing equity first hand. But Hansberry's struggle to be seen as a black person, a woman, an artist and a lesbian – makes her ultimate success on Broadway an even more radical act. It’s streaming online until February 16, if you catch it, and I hope you do,  tweet your thoughts under #InspiringWomanPBS and tag me (@ellmcgirt) and @pbsamermasters.

A new economics paper for every day of Black History Month
Clemson economics professor and national treasure Eric Blair has been posting a daily tweet on “econ papers that have inspired me,” under the hashtag #Econs4BHM. Halfway through the month, he’s going strong and dropping knowledge along the way. Not only are the papers interesting – one explains how long-ago lynchings contribute to low black voter turnout in some zip codes today – the conversations he attracts are fascinating, too. BlackEcon twitter is good twitter, friends.

Dating while trans can be terrifying
Trans people have an unusual array of barriers facing them in the dating sphere, not the least of which is almost certain violence. The “trans panic” defense, in which a defendant claims temporary insanity when they learn a trans person’s identity is only invalid in California – and the long history of violence against trans women means that many err on the side of caution and stay home. “But if you don’t want to flirt with strangers in real life, the only other option is to flirt with them online, and that’s not much better,” writes Sam Riedel. Riedel gamely tries and reviews several new apps that promise to do a better job helping trans people find love. Although the results were uniformly disappointing, the reviews offer real insight into the issues that trans people face when products are not designed with their unique needs in mind.
The Establishment


I think, then, that Negroes must concern themselves with every single means of struggle: legal, illegal, passive, active, violent and non-violent. That they must harass, debate, petition, give money to court struggles, sit-in, lie-down, strike, boycott, sing hymns, pray on steps—and shoot from their windows when the racists come cruising through their communities. 
Lorraine Hansberry