Women's Lives and Challenges
Equality and empowerment since 2000
This report assesses the progress made toward gender equality and women's empowerment since the MDGs were adopted in 2000. It summarizes findings from 95 surveys conducted by MEASURE DHS in 47 countries from 2000 to 2011. While the largest group of countries comes from sub-Saharan Africa, every region of the developing world is represented. Data on trends are available for 33 countries that hosted 2 or more surveys in this time period. Together these data give us an accurate picture of women's lives. They describe the current status of women around the world and show how much change, for better or worse, has occurred since 2000.
The first chapter, "Resources for Empowerment and Equality," explores gender disparities in resources, services, and opportunities. It examines women's access to basic building blocks of empowerment, including education, employment, and health care, as well as barriers to educational and economic opportunities, such as ill health and early marriage. The second chapter, "Women's Control of their Own Lives," examines whether women's ability to realize their rights and determine their life outcomes has increased. The third chapter, "Violence in Women's Lives," assesses the success of efforts to reduce gender-based violence and mitigate its effects.
While the focus is on women, the report presents men's data where available.Most data presented come from a Demographic and Health Survey (DHS). However, some data come from an AIDS Indicator Survey (AIS), Malaria Indicator Survey (MIS), HIV/AIDS and Malaria Indicator Survey (HMIS), or Demographic and Health and Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (DHS-MICS). All of these surveys follow the same methodology; are based on a nationally representative sample of households; and collect information from household representatives regarding household members, selected member characteristics, and living conditions, and from eligible members within the household, typically women age 15-49 and men age 15-49 or older, regarding individual, demographic, and health characteristics.
- Resources for empowerment are distributed unequally between women and men, but women have made gains in education, employment, health care, and family life.
- Women's control over their own lives shows some encouraging trends, but substantial gender gaps remain.
- Violence in women's lives remains disturbingly common, and progress has been limited.