Reading comprehension

Women hold up half the sky (Chinese saying)

What do you think this saying means? Is it true to our society? Why (not)?



IDevice Icon Global gender inequality
Gender inequality starts early and keeps women at a disadvantage throughout their lives. In some countries, infant girls are less likely to survive than infant boys because their parents favour the boys and neglect the girls - even though biologically, infant girls should survive in greater numbers.
Girls are more likely to drop out of school and to receive less education than boys because of discrimination, education expenses, and household duties.

In 1995, governments around the world signed the Beijing Platform For Action, promising to take specific action to prevent discrimination against women. Yet today, more than 40 countries have laws which discriminate against women and treat them as second-class citizens. In many countries, women are subjected to violence, which the government does nothing to stop because their laws approve practices like 'honour' killings, (where a woman is killed by a family member if she does something which is thought to bring shame on the family), marital rape and wife beating. In several countries laws make it more difficult for a woman to be independent because they restrict women's property, employment and citizenship rights.

  • Out of 1.3 billion people in the world living in absolute poverty, over 70 per cent are women.
  • At the present rate of progress, it will take 450 years before women reach equality with men as senior managers.
  • Women hold less than 5 per cent of the top positions in international organisations like the United Nations and the European Union.
  • Of the 150 million children in the world aged 6-11 who do not attend school, over 90 million are girls. Of 876 million illiterate people over 15 years in the world, two-thirds are women.
  • Worldwide, women's wages are 30-40 per cent lower than those of men doing comparable work.
  • Average hourly earnings for women working full-time are 18% lower than for men working full-time in the UK, and for women working part-time, hourly earnings are 40% lower.
  • In 2005 there were 42,832 MPs in the world. 15.7 per cent are women. Only around 6 per cent of government ministers worldwide are women.
  • 500,000 women die each year from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.
  • In the 15-40 age range, 75 per cent more women die than men.
  • Some 201 million women, most of them in developing countries, still have no access to contraceptive services. Meeting their needs would prevent an estimated 23 million.
  • Unplanned births, and 1.4 million infant deaths.

From: Amnesty International Women's Rights Workbook. (adapted)

Activity. In small groups, read the information sheet Global Gender Inequality and indentify which factors are a cause of gender inequality, which are a consequence of gender inequality and which are both a cause and a consequence. Complete the table.







Which facts surprised you most and why?




Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 3.0 License

AngloTIC Learning Objects 2011 Sergio Maruenda Bataller & BegoƱa Clavel Arroitia