The Trials of Growing Up Female

Ensuring education, protection, and equal opportunity for the world’s 1.2 billion girls is key to solving some of the planet’s most pressing problems, from the cycle of poverty to the spread of HIV/AIDS. Yet despite gains in access to education, health care, and employment, more progress is needed to put women on an equal footing with men.

50% of countries* worldwide have been led by a female, up from 38% in 2006.
Gender equality laws are more likely to be passed when women serve in office. Thanks in part to quotas, the proportion of parliamentary seats held by women has nearly doubled since 1990 to 23 percent.
Girls ages 15-19 account for 65% of new teen infections of HIV/AIDS worldwide.
Sexual violence and early sexual encounters increase a girl’s risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. In sub-Saharan Africa, home to 70 percent of the world’s HIV cases, three out of four teens infected in 2015 were girls.
Over 700 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday.
Child brides face significant risk of domestic violence, and girls under 16 face higher maternal mortality rates. Most countries set the minimum age of marriage at 18, but marriages are often allowed with parental consent.
58% of girls around the globe attend secondary school versus 62% of boys.
The global gender gap in secondary education is narrowing, but in central and West Africa 39 percent of girls are enrolled vs. 46 percent of boys. Girls in conflict zones are 2.5 times more likely than boys to drop out.
Suicide is the leading cause of death for girls ages 10-19 globally.
Worldwide, maternal mortality is the leading cause of death for older teen girls, but suicide outranks it in Europe and much of Asia. The suicide rate for older teen girls in many Asian countries is twice the world average.
Teen pregnancy
16 million girls 15-19 years old give birth each year, equal to 10% of all global births.
Ninety-five percent of teen births are in low- and middle-income countries, with the highest rates in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. In the past 20 years most countries saw a drop while contraceptive use increased.
18% of the world’s firms now have a female as a top manager or Chief Executive Officer.
Research shows that gender diversity increases profitability. Women now run 2 percent of the world’s 500 biggest companies based on revenue. In 1995 none of the top 500 U.S. firms had female CEOs; today women head 4.6 percent of them.
Sexual violence
120 million girls around the globe have experienced sexual violence.
Worldwide, one in 10 girls under age 20 has been forced into intercourse or other sexual acts. Girls and women who’ve endured such abuse are at a higher risk of domestic violence and exploitation in the sex trade.
Genital mutilation
Some 200 million girls and women today have endured genital mutilation.
Genital mutilation is most common in sub-Saharan Africa and some Arab states, despite bans. Its effects include severe pain, infection, incontinence, difficult intercourse, childbirth complications, and even death.
Monica Serrano, Manuel Canales and Daniela Santamarina, ngm staff; Kelsey Nowakowski. ART: PABLO AMARGO. Sources: Catalyst; Fortune; UNICEF; World Bank; World Economic Forum, World Health Organization