By: Vanessa Valenti on April 10, 2008 A new UN-commissioned report says that women are discriminated against in nearly every nation in the world: It says that this is despite the fact that 185 UN member states pledged to outlaw laws favouring men by 2005. It adds that 70% of the world’s poor are women and they own just 1% of the world’s titled land. The report, which was prepared for UN Human Right Commissioner Louise Arbour, says rape within marriage has still not been made a crime in 53 nations. The report was prepared by Fareda Banda, a law professor at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). She says that there are many more discriminatory laws against women, including statutes on divorce, maternity benefits and pensions. Even seemingly harmless laws like the legal age for marriage has a huge impact on girls’ and women’s lives: “Many states still have different ages of marriage for young women than they have for young men, and the age for girls is always lower then the age for boys. . . This leads to violations, for example of a girls’ right education, if she has to leave school at 14 to get married, and this impacts upon her life chances . . . It ends up being a life-long violation of her rights in terms of forfeiting education, having children too early, possibly being damaged herself.” For more information on how marriage at an early age affects girls, check out this video by the UNFPA. In the meantime, let’s hope this report will serve as a serious call to the UN member states to keep their promise and eliminate these harmful laws; the world’s women can’t afford to wait any longer.