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CNN Today

U.N. Report Documents Women's Hardships

Aired September 20, 2000 - 2:33 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The United Nations put out a wide- ranging report today on the global gender gap. Compared to men, no matter how affluent or educated, the U.N. says women are getting a raw deal.

Here's CNN's Margaret Lowrie in London with the findings.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARGARET LOWRIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Women are half the world's population, but the U.N. says they bear a disproportionate amount of its woes, likely to be less educated, less prosperous, less healthy, more likely to suffer violence or abuse, and generally, less empowered, than men.

The U.N. says this gender inequality comes at a high cost, both in human and economic terms.

NAFIS SADIK, UNITED NATIONS POPULATION FUND: Some of the estimates are as high as 30 percent of economic growth has been reduced or not taken place because of the lack of investment in half the population to education and health.

LOWRIE: In its annual report, the U.N.'s Population Fund gives these statistics: At least one in three women has been physically or sexually abused, one in four during pregnancy; 60 million girls are what the report describes as missing, mostly in Asia, the result of neglect, abortions based on gender selection, or infanticide.

The report estimates as many as 5,000 women and girls are murdered each year by their families in so-called "honor killings." Two million girls are forced into the sex trade each year. And more than 100 million women have had their genitalia mutilated, mostly in Africa and Western Asia, often leading to illness, infertility, even death.

The report says ignorance and lack of access to contraception means 80 million unwanted pregnancies annually, which leads to some 20 million unsafe abortions, leaving 78,000 women dead every year. According to the report, another half a million women die each year from pregnancy-related problems, mostly in developing countries with little or no care before, during and after childbirth.

The U.N. says some governments aren't honoring pledges to spend a global total of nearly $3 billion by year's end to improve the position of women.

SADIK: We need to find the means to actually have action taken, not just at the national level, but at local levels.

LOWRIE: The U.N. Stresses gender inequality may be reinforced by poverty, but it arises from deep-seated cultural stereotypes and misconceptions, and governments need the political and social will to fund and enforce changes.

Margaret Lowrie, CNN, London. Now

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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