A progress report: Six tales reveal how much still remains to be done

Poverty, poor health, sexual violence and degradation remain endemic around the world in spite of closer equality between the sexes
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Indy Politics


39 million girls are denied a primary education

Aklima, 12, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Aklima doesn't spend her days in a classroom like other children her age. Instead, she makes a living by scavenging at a rubbish dump. She has been working since she was three and started getting informal lessons only recently.

"Sometimes I cut my hands and legs on broken glass or tins," she said. "When I walk on the street, people say bad things about me. They say, 'Don't you feel ashamed? It's good to go to school.'"


70 per cent of the world's poorest people are women

Agatha Akakandelwa, 47, Nambinji, Zambia

Agatha Akakandelwa has to support 21 family members from a tiny patch of land in her Western Province village and often goes without food herself to ensure that everyone has enough.

"Our food situation becomes very difficult every year. From September until about January we usually get only one meal a day," she said. "I can go all day without eating and then get up and go to the field the next day, but I get really concerned for the children. In that situation you really have to struggle."


Three million girls a year are at risk of genital mutilation every year

Tante Mado, 61, Guinea

The midwife nearly died twice when having genital circumcision. She had three of her daughters circumcised but now campaigns to stop the practice. "The day of my excision I bled a lot. The wound got badly infected. I didn't want my daughters excised but the social pressure is very strong. I didn't have my fourth daughter excised."


At least 300 women are discovered in domestic slavery every year in the UK

Folake, 26, from Lagos, Nigeria

Folake came to London to work for a Nigerian family after being promised a good wage and UK citizenship. She became a domestic slave, imprisoned, abused and forced to work long hours unpaid. "My employer would slap me for every mistake I made. She would threaten me and say the police would arrest me if I talked to anyone."


The conviction rate for rape in Scotland is 3.7 per cent

Faye Wilson, 26, Buckie, north-east Scotland

Faye Wilson was raped at 16. "It was a boy I knew at school who did it. It happened when we'd been out but I didn't tell anyone," she said. "Five years later I finally got the courage to report it, but it was too late for a conviction. He thought he'd done nothing wrong and denied it to the police. I think men are not educated properly enough to know where consent lies and what's right and what's wrong. There is more help for victims now than 100 years ago but, in terms of society's attitudes, a lot still needs to change."


1,500 women die unnecessarily every day giving birth or during pregnancy

Fatima Lawal Aliyu, 37, Kano state, Nigeria

Fatima lost her baby and got fistula after doctors in Kano state, Nigeria, left her in labour for five days. "On my fifth day, my legs could not hold me up and I faded in and out of consciousness. My mother wanted to go to another hospital. By the time we arrived the baby was dead. I needed two more surgeries to repair the damage from the Caesarean section."