Last year, four UN agencies that deal with gender empowerment and equality merged to form a new UN super-agency, UN Women. It is lead by the powerhouse former president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet.

UN Women released its first flagship report today, called “Progress of the World’s Women.” The theme of this progress report is the Pursuit of Justice; it analyzes how laws and legal systems are evolving (or not) to give women equal access to justice as men.

Overall, global norms are moving in the right direction.  But, as the report notes, “in every region, there are laws that discriminate against women, in relation to property, the family, employment and citizenship. Too often, justice institutions, including the police and the courts, deny women justice.”

Says Bachelet:

“The report reminds us of the remarkable advances that have been made over the past century in the quest for gender equality and women’s empowerment,” she said. “However it also underscores the fact that despite widespread guarantees of equality, the reality for many millions of women is that justice remains out of reach.”

There is so much interesting data, anecdotes and analysis in this report that it is hard to summarize. Instead, I recommend folks just spend some time clicking through the report’s homepage. You’ll find interesting charts like this one, which shows how in sample European countries only a fraction of reported rape cases result in a conviction.

And this chart, which shows a clear and positive correlation between women’s representation in the police and the reporting of sexual assault.

The report also highlights 10 fascinating legal cases from around the globe that forever changed laws restricting women’s rights and access to justice.  These range from the case of Martha Solay of Columbia who won the right to have a life saving abortion; or the case of Meera Dhungana of Nepal which lead to the enactment of marital rape laws.

In all it is a fascinating report that you should definitely spend some time with today.

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