The lack of women's rights in developing countries has come into the spotlight recently, and some are calling the struggle for gender equity the human rights cause of this century.
It's about time. In addition to being a moral imperative, improving the rights and lives of women is key to reducing poverty and increasing economic development.
Women's rights received an important boost last month when the United Nations created a new agency, the U.N. Development Fund for Women, to focus on women's social and economic plight. The Clinton Global Initiative also launched a $24 million effort to give more economic power to women in the developing world.
Speaking at the CGI meeting last month, former President Bill Clinton noted some of the economic inequities women face worldwide.
"According to the United Nations, women do 66 percent, two-thirds of the world's work, produce 50 percent of the world's food -- a factor which would stun people in this country, given the way agriculture is organized -- earn 10 percent of the world's income and own 1 percent of the world's property," he said.
Women and girls also are overwhelmingly the victims of crimes and cultural violence. For example, an estimated 130 million women have been subjected to genital cutting, and thousands of girls are forced into the sex trade each year.
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