Too few women at the top, says Clinton/Gates report

AFP , Monday 9 Mar 2015

File Photo: Hillary Rodham Clinton is seen in New York Friday, Nov. 21, 2014 (Photo: AP)

Three women with global clout -- Hillary Clinton, Melinda Gates and Chelsea Clinton -- released a sweeping report on Monday showing that women are still far from winning equality in leadership positions.

The "No Ceilings" report is a review of progress made by women since the 1995 Beijing conference laid out a platform of action for achieving gender equality.

It was at that gathering that then first lady Hillary Clinton declared: "Let it be that human rights are women's rights, and women's rights are human rights, once and for all."

But 20 years on, women are still "very much a minority" when it comes to holding political office, representing fewer than 30 percent of the world's lawmakers, the report said.

About a fifth of ministers in Latin America and Africa are women, but they tend to run portfolios such as health, education or welfare and are left out of defense and financial ministries.

Women hold finance or budget cabinet posts in just 24 of 189 countries studied for the report.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has noted that five countries still have all-male parliaments, and eight countries do not have a single woman in cabinet.

The report was released at the start of a 12-day UN conference on women that will focus on women's political power and their influence in economic decision-making.

On the business front, women CEOs in the top Fortune 500 companies were nowhere to be seen in 1995, and now represent five percent, according to the study.

Women are increasingly taking their place on board seats, with their share ranging from eight percent in Portugal to 36 percent in Norway, but this falls short of parity, the study said.

Clinton, seen as the likely Democratic presidential frontrunner, will attend the UN conference on Tuesday to address the "unfinished business" of the Beijing gathering, aides said.

Despite shortcomings in politics and economic representation, women have made headway in health and education, with women now outnumbering men in universities.

The "No Ceilings Full Participation" report is a year-long project that brought together the Clinton and Gates foundations, the Economist Intelligence Unit and the World Policy Center of the University of California in Los Angeles.

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