Reduced Inequalities: More Than 78,400 Children in the US Were Married Between 2010 and 2014 #childmarriage


Child marriage is still legal in some form in every state.

Though all 50 states in the US have set the minimum age for marriage at 18, legal loopholes mean that child marriage is still legal in some form in every state.

According to the recent study “Child Marriage in the United States: How Common Is the Practice, And Which Children Are at Greatest Risk,” approximately 78,400 children in the US today are or have been married.

While it’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of children have been married across the country over the last two decades, precise figures on the number of those affected have been difficult to obtain. But researchers at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health have begun to paint a more accurate picture of the problem, using data from the American Community Survey — an annual survey conducted and released by the Census Bureau.

Researchers analyzed the survey responses of teens between the ages of 15 and 17 from 2010-2014 and found that an average of 6.8 of every 1,000 girls and 5.7 of every 1,000 boys had been or were currently married at the time they completed the survey, according to a press release.

The study found that immigrant children, especially those from Central America, Mexico, and the Middle East, were more likely to be married than children born in the US. It also identified substantially higher incidences of child marriage in states like West Virginia, North Dakota, and Hawaii, where more than 10 in every 1,000 children were married.

In several states, children under the age of 18 can be married with the consent of a parent or judge, or if they are pregnant.

However, “these marriages are not leading, to the best of our knowledge, to long-term marriages where they’re living together,” Dr. Jody Heymann, co-author of the study and dean of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, told Teen Vogue. “So, I think that’s really important for people who believe that child marriage when there’s a pregnancy is actually forming a family and a long-term marriage. It’s not. It’s really not the solution.”

Previous Census data backs up Heymann’s claim, with 70% of married teens getting divorced. US Census data from 2010 also shows a significantly higher number of married, divorced, separated, and widowed children, putting the figure at about 500,000.

Around the world, 650 million girls and women alive today were married as children, according to Girls Not Brides. While West and Central Africa have the highest rates of child marriage, India is home to the largest number of married children in the world, UNICEF reported.

Child marriage disproportionately affects girls, who are often forced to drop out of school and have children before they are ready.

“Studies show that girls in the US who marry as children have lower education attainment, are at greater risk of living in poverty and suffer adverse health consequences,” added Heymann in a press release. “The large number of child marriages in the U.S. have profound implications on the lives of children and youth that need to be addressed.”

Over the past few years, several states — including Arizona, Florida, Tennessee, and New Jersey — have voted on bills that propose setting the minimum age of marriage at 18 without exception. Though many of the bills have resulted in stronger legislation that protects minors against child marriage, no state has succeeded in fully banning child marriage yet.



Quality Education: Africans Are Among the Best Educated US Immigrants, Study Finds #education #globalgoals


African Graduates

By Salem Solomon

WASHINGTON — When you picture an African immigrant in the United States, do you imagine someone with little or no schooling, struggling to find work? New research shows a different reality: African immigrants in the United States are college-educated and employed at about the same rates as the general population, and far more likely to be educated and working than their counterparts in Europe.

The report, by the Pew Research Center, found 69 percent of sub-Saharan African immigrants in the United States have some college education. That number is six percentage points higher than the level for native-born Americans, and far higher than levels in Europe.

In Britain, about half of sub-Saharan African immigrants have some college education. In France, the number is 30 percent. In Italy it is only 10 percent.

The Pew study, based on 2015 data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Eurostat’s Labor Force Survey, also found about 93 percent of African immigrants in the United States were employed, whereas in Europe employment figures ranged from 80 percent in Italy to 92 percent in the U.K. These numbers were roughly equal to the general population in each country.

Monica Anderson is a research associate at Pew and a co-author of the report. The research team wanted to compare demographics of African immigrants in the United States to their counterparts in Europe, Anderson told VOA by phone.

“What we found is that the sub-Saharan African immigrant population [in the U.S.] really stands out and that they are a very highly educated group,” Anderson said.

“The majority of sub-Saharan African immigrants in all of these countries that we looked at are employed, and when you look at their employment compared to those who were actually — who were born in those specific countries — there’s really not a lot of difference,” she added.


In 2015, about 2.1 million African immigrants were living in the U.S., according to Pew. That number has more than doubled since 2000.

They came to the United States in different ways – to study, for employment opportunities, and through family reunification programs, the latter denounced by President Donald Trump as “chain migration.”

Some Africans come to the United States as refugees and asylum seekers. In 2016, about 31,000 Africans were admitted into the United States as refugees, accounting for 37 percent of all admissions. About 19 percent of admissions came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where conflict has displaced nearly two million people in the past 18 months.

Thousands more come through the State Department’s diversity visa lottery, which provides 50,000 permanent resident visas annually to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. In 2015, the last year for which data is available, African immigrants made up 46 percent of applicants invited to request immigrant visas.


One explanation for the difference in education levels is that Europe is much easier to reach for low-income Africans who travel by boat or other means.

Since 2010, violence, turmoil and poverty have driven approximately 1.5 million Africans to leave the continent for the United States or Europe, and the numbers have grown each year, according to the United Nations.

Hundreds of thousands have risked crossing the Mediterranean Sea on rickety boats, hoping to make it to Italy or Greece.

In contrast, Africans coming to America often have the money to travel by plane, and the permission to enter the country once they arrive.

“It is also about proximity, and I think there are other studies and literature out there about how proximity might impact the kind of characteristics that different groups might have when they’re migrating,” Anderson said. “So those who have a lower socioeconomic status may not have the capabilities or have the resources to move to a distant country.”


Higher education and employment levels don’t necessarily translate into a higher quality of life for African immigrants in the United States, based on previous research by Pew.

Despite high education and employment rates, black immigrants — including those from Africa, the Caribbean, Central America and South America — have a median household income that’s about $8,200 lower than the U.S. average, Pew researchers found.

Forty percent of black immigrants are homeowners, 24 percent less than the overall U.S. population, and 20 percent of black immigrants live below the poverty line, compared to 16 percent of the overall U.S. population.

These numbers suggest that, despite relatively high education and employment rates, African immigrants face challenges getting access to all the opportunities that other groups enjoy.


Reduced Inequalities: 160 Babies, Children Rescued in Latest Nigerian ‘Baby Factory’ Raid #sdgs #globalgoals

The victims have all been relocated to government-approved homes.


More than 160 children were rescued from a Nigerian “baby factory” and two illegal orphanages this week, according to a report by the BBC. It was one of the largest raids in recent history.

“The children and teenagers rescued from the baby factory were placed at Government Approved Homes for Care and Protection,” the Lagos State government said in a statement.

But the war on human trafficking is far from being won.

Baby factories are a recurring problem in Nigeria, where it is not uncommon for unmarried pregnant women to be lured to a location with the promise of healthcare only to be imprisoned and have their baby stolen. In other instances, women are kidnapped, raped, and forced to become pregnant.

The children are then “sold for adoption, used for child labour, trafficked to Europe for prostitution or killed for ritual purposes,” according to the BBC report.

Some of the babies and children rescued had been sexually abused, said Agboola Dabiri, the Commissioner for Youths and Social Development in Lagos State, in a statement.

The Commissioner also noted that of the 163 children rescued in total, 100 were girls and 62 were boys.

More than 4.8 million people worldwide are victims of forced sexual exploitation, or sex trafficking, according to the International Labour Organization. It’s also estimated that one in three trafficking victims are children below the age of 18.

Quality Education: Beyoncé Is Funding 4 Scholarships to Historically Black Universities and Colleges #sdgs #globalgoals #2030now


The scholarship totals $100,000 across four schools.

Less than 48 hours after putting on a show for the history books, acclaimed singer and Global Citizen Beyoncé wasn’t done changing the world.

She was just getting started.

Yesterday, “Queen Bey” announced a program to fund $100,000 worth of academic scholarships to help students attend historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) through her BEYGood Initiative.

The Homecoming Scholars Award Program will be available to students at four HBCUs: Xavier University of Louisiana, Wilberforce University, Tuskegee University, and Bethune-Cookman University.

Students from various fields — including literature, creative arts, African-American studies, science, education, business, communications, social sciences, computer science and engineering — are invited to apply, according to a press release.

“We salute the rich legacy of Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” Ivy McGregor, director of philanthropy and corporate relations at Parkwood Entertainment, of which BeyGOOD is a part, said in a statement. “We honor all institutions of higher learning for maintaining culture and creating environments for optimal learning which expands dreams and the seas of possibilities for students.”

This is not the first time Beyoncé has supported higher education in a big way. Last April, Beyoncé started the Formation Scholars program on the one year anniversary of the release of her award-winning album “Lemonade.”

The scholarship helped send four talented students to Berklee College of Music, Howard University, Parsons School of Design, and Spelman College — two of which are HBCUs.

Quality Education: How Muppets Are Helping Refugee Kids Get an Education #refugee #muppets #education #sdgs #globalgoals #2030now


They’re helping bring hope to children around the world.

Conflicts across the Middle East have had a tremendously adverse effect on children, the most vulnerable members of the population. With the Syrian civil war now in its seventh year and the Iraqi territories retaken from the Islamic State still unstable, millions of children in refugee camps have had to spend their early years dealing with the dire consequences of war.

But the American non-profit behind the popular children’s show Sesame Street, Sesame Workshop, says it is sending its lovable and furry Muppets to these countries to help bring laughter and build resilience in the affected kids.

In an interview with VOA, Sesame Workshop’s senior vice president for international social impact, Shari Rosenfeld, said her organization was teaming up with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to provide early education to help children and families overcome the trauma of conflict.

“We will deliver this in two ways: direct, in-person services for 1.5 million of the most vulnerable children, as well as a new educational broadcast that will reach 9.4 million children across Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria,” she said. 

In December 2017, the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change program — a competition for funds to support a program that promises measurable progress in solving a critical contemporary problem — awarded Sesame Workshop and the IRC a grant of $100 million to help implement the project.

Rosenfeld said the program would introduce a localized version of Sesame Streetto provide engaging educational messages covering reading, languages, math and social skills.

Character customization

Instead of using popular character names such as Elmo, Big Bird and Cookie Monster, the puppets will have regional names and will speak Arabic and Kurdish.

“Not only will our content be made available through traditional television broadcast, but it will also be available on digital platforms like WhatsApp,” she said.

The program also will directly support children and parents at learning centers equipped with material for play-based learning, she added. Its trained workers will give home visitation and caregiving sessions to nearly 800,000 caregivers to mitigate the impact of toxic stress on children up to age 3.

“Toxic stress” occurs when a child’s brain development is disrupted because of prolonged adversity and leads to problems such as self-harm, suicide attempts and aggressive behaviour.

Save the Children, a children’s rights and relief NGO, last year found that millions of Syrian children exposed to war could now suffer from “toxic stress” and needed immediate help to keep the damage from becoming irreversible.

The U.N.’s children agency, UNICEF, estimates that 1.75 million Syrian children remain out of school, and that 2.6 million Syrian children are living as refugees or are on the run for their safety.

In neighbouring Iraq, the agency says, more than 1 million children have been displaced and 4 million are in need of assistance as a result of the war with the Islamic State group.

Affected children

Iraqi officials have expressed concerns, particularly about children who were schooled by IS. Counterterrorism officials have listed about 2,000 children needing therapy after having been influenced or brainwashed by IS.

Rights organizations say a majority of children affected by extreme violence do not receive proper education and rehabilitation.

The IRC estimates that of the billions of dollars spent on humanitarian aid, only about 2 percent is reserved for education or child development.

Rosenfeld of Sesame Workshop said the organization’s project would meet the children’s needs to recover from violence and extremism by emphasizing critical issues, such as mutual respect and understanding, diversity and inclusion, and gender equity.

If the program is successful in achieving those goals, the organization would try to expand it for other crises.

Projects elsewhere

Sesame Workshop has created local versions in several conflict-torn areas, such as Afghanistan, Nigeria, the Palestinian territories, Israel and Kosovo.

In rural Afghanistan, where women’s rights are sharply restricted, particularly by extremist groups like the Taliban, the local version of Sesame Street, known as Baghch-e-Simsim, has targeted girls’ empowerment. The program features a vibrant hijab-clad female role model called Zari, a 6-year-old Muppet who loves going to school and has big dreams for her future.

An impact assessment by the organization showed that children who watch Baghch-e-Simsim test 29 percent higher in believing in girls’ and boys’ equal ability to do various tasks compared with their peers who did not watch the show.

In another assessment, Israeli and Palestinian children who watched the show were more likely to take someone else’s perspective and express the need for the use of dialogue to solve a problem.

Some experts say that by providing education for children and promoting messages of tolerance, the program also could be used as an effective counterterrorism tool.

Countering Boko Haram

Naomi Moland, a lecturer at American University in Washington who studies the Nigerian version of Sesame Street, said the program producers tried to indirectly combat Boko Haram in northern Nigeria.

The terror group, whose name loosely translates as “Western education is forbidden,” has abducted hundreds of girls for going to secular schools.

“As far as gender equality, especially in regions where Boko Haram is active, even saying that girls should go to school is a counterterrorism message, because Boko Haram has fought against it,” Moland told VOA.

She said the creators of the localized show, called Sesame Square, feared being targeted by Boko Haram or having their show boycotted.

“They would say things like, ‘If we do one thing wrong, nobody in northern Nigeria is going to watch this because a certain extremist imam might say the show is not appropriate,’ ” she added.

Her forthcoming book, Can Big Bird Fight Terrorism? Children’s Television as Soft Power in Nigeria, concludes the creators faced other dilemmas, such as celebrating diversity without exacerbating divisions and stereotypes of others, and localizing the show to reflect children’s reality.

“I think that is a difficult challenge that Sesame will face in this new program with Syrian refugees — that is, how do you present something that seems somewhat realistic to the children in that it connects their experiences of trauma and displacement while also giving them hope that something could be different and they might be able to get along with people who are different from them?” asked Moland.

Partnerships For the Goals: Gates, Jolie, the Obamas: These Are the Most Admired People of 2018 #sdgs #2030now #globalgoals


Gates and Jolie beat out former presidents, royals and Oprah to claim the top spots.

YouGov recently released their annual study highlighting public figures people look up to the most. The list includes celebrities, activists as well as former and current world leaders.

The survey queried 37,000 people from more than 35 countries to determine who are the women and men our world hails as most admirable.

Entertainers rounded out most of the top 20 for women, while businessmen, politicians and athletes dominated the top 20 for men. Many of these men and women work to tackle global issues and have left a lasting impact on the world.

The World’s Most Admired Women

Angelina Jolie

Angelina-Jolie.jpgAngelina Jolie poses for photographers upon arrival at the BAFTA Film Awards, in London, Feb. 18, 2018.
Image: Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

While famous for her work as an actress, Jolie has also committed her life to humanitarian efforts. As a Special Envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, she focuses on preventing and punishing sexual violence.

Michelle Obama

michelle obama ap .jpgImage: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

The former first lady’s transformative work includes the launch of Let Girls Learn , an initiative that helps educate girls around the world.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah-Golden-Globes-MeToo.jpgImage: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/AP

Aside from being a general beacon for empowerment of everyone, everywhere, Oprah stole the show at the Golden Globes with her powerful speech on the #MeToo movement.

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen-Elizabeth-Social-Share.jpgBritain’s Queen Elizabeth II waves to the crowd in Ascot, England, June 22, 2017.
Image: Alastair Grant/AP

The Queen recently waged a war on plastic in an effort to reduce the environmental impact of royal households.

Hillary Clinton

clinton dnc victory ap.jpgImage: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

As a former secretary of state and presidential candidate, Clinton has spent her life breaking glass ceilings and advocating for the rights of women both domestically and abroad.

Emma Watson

emma watson UN Women malawi.jpgUN Women/Karin Schermbrucker
Image: UN Women/Karin Schermbrucker

Watson is a dedicated advocate for the UN’s HeforShe campaign working to promote gender equality.

Malala Yousafazi

2017-Women-Malala.jpgImage: Mark Garten/UN Photo

As the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala is staunch advocate of education as a basic human right and uses her own organization and voice to empower girls around the world.

Read More: 15 Times That Malala Nailed It

Priyanka Chopra

GCF17_PriyankaChopra_DanielDorsaForGlobalCitizen102.jpgImage: Daniel Dorsa 

Chopra advocates for girls’ causes and education as an ambassador for both Girls Up and Girls Rising and through her own foundation.


madonna-woman-of-the-year (1).jpgImage: Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

When not pushing musical boundaries, pop icon Madonna works to end extreme poverty among orphans in Malawi.

Gal Gadot

gal gadotImage: Gage Skidmore/Flickr.

Gal Gadot is a Wonder Woman both on and off screen: She uses her platform to raise funds to build schools and take a stance on the importance of education.

Angela Merkel

Angela MerkelImage: Michaela Rehle/Pool Photo via AP

Merkel made headlines with her open door refugee policy that took in millions fleeing conflict in the Middle East.

The World’s Most Admired Men

Bill Gates

AP_17128846109365_Bill_Gates_AP Photo_Nati Harnik.jpgImage: AP Photo/Nati Harnik

As the founder of both Microsoft and the world’s largest private charity, Gates promotes global development and tackles issues in health and education.

Barack Obama

Barack_Obama_Birthday_FINALS_011.jpgImage: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Having ranked first in 19 of the countries surveyed, the former president continues his legacy as a leader of global change

Jackie Chan


Considered one of Asia’s premier philanthropists, Chan has founded multiple charities focused on expanding educational opportunities for children.

Dalai Lama

DalaiLama WikiCommons.jpgImage: Yancho Sabev / Wikimedia Commons

The spiritual leader and activist is renowned for his peaceful approaches to global relations and attempts to end human rights violations.

Warren Buffet

Warren BuffettImage: Fortune Live Media / Flickr

While he donates billions to charity, philanthropist Warren Buffet also uses his status to advocate for ending global poverty.

David Beckham


Michael Jordan


Jordan actively contributes to charities that target and help at-risk youth.

Pope Francis

Pope-Francis.jpgPope Francis waves as he leaves the Shrine of Our Lord of the Miracles after a mid-morning prayer with contemplative nuns, in Lima, Peru, Jan. 21, 2018.
Image: Rodrigo Abd/AP

Pope Francis has brought ending poverty and eradicating injustices to the forefront of his mission as head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City.

Lionel Messi


Messi’s charitable work includes building classrooms in Syria so more than 1,600 displaced children can return to school.

Imran Khan

The Pakistani politician’s foundation works to engage and mobilize local communities through better access to basic services.

Narendra Modi

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at ratification of Paris Agreement on Climate Change with the UNImage: AP Photo/Manish Swarup

Modi has made humanitarian efforts central to his role as Prime Minister of India by making improvements to health and education a priority.

Reduced Inequalities: Beyoncé Made History at Coachella — And Put on an Incredible Show #sdgs #globalgoals #women #girls #beyonce

Destiny's Child reunite for Beyonce's first ever Coachella show as the fans went wild for them as they salute the 100k plus crowd in Cali

Destiny’s Child reunite for Beyonce’s first ever Coachella show as the fans went wild for them as they salute the 100k plus crowd in Cali. Beyonce showed off her wild hair and fashion and made faces while on stage as well as high in the sky on a cherry picker.Pictured: Destiny’s Child, Beyonce Ref: SPL1682860 150418
Picture by: Aced1500 / Splash News

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‘Beychella’ was about more than just the music.

It was supposed to happen last year. But Beyoncé’s historic headline act was well worth the wait.

This past weekend, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter became the first black woman to headline the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, one year after she was forced to cancel what would have been her inaugural appearance to give birth to twins.

“Coachella, thank you for allowing me to be the first black woman to headline,” she said on-stage before launching into her hit single, “Run the World (Girls).”

The brilliance of her performance was not lost on her fans — nor on other musicians including Chance The Rapper, Janelle Monae, Adele, and her sister, Solange.

“My QUEEN for life . Always . And forever . You continuously make me feel so proud to be a Black woman & artist . Last night was EXCEPTIONAL . We must protect you at all costs !” Monae wrote on Twitter.

“I saw it with my own two eyes,” Chance the Rapper wrote. “Beyoncé is the greatest entertainer to ever live and the Queen of Music.”

Her headline act was notable not just for the songs she sang, or the reunions she orchestrated, but also for its powerful stage moments that shone a light on black icons past and present.

Queen Bey sampled a Malcolm X quote and repped a Black Panther Party crest, invited a marching band from a historically black college on stage, and honored the late Nina Simone, to name just a few.

She has worked with worked with Gucci and CHIME FOR CHANGE (where she’s a co-founder) to bring clean water to people living in poverty in Burundi; spoken out about women’s empowerment at the Grammy’s; and started a scholarship program to help send black women to school.

Women & Girls: This Woman’s Crafty Invention Is Keeping Menstruating Girls in School #sdgs #globalgoals #menstruation #2030now #education


Periods will always be a drag. But they should never impact a young woman’s ability to succeed in school.

Unfortunately, due to inadequate hygiene education and limited access to personal products, girls in rural areas around the world often rely on found items ranging from scraps of clothing to mud, leaves or animal skins to manage their menstrual flow — often forcing them to stay home from school due to social stigma and embarrassment.

Having experienced this issue first-hand growing up, Nigerian philanthropist and entrepreneur Folasade Bamisaye recently launched a start-up to help prevent young women in her country from missing classes due to lack of proper hygiene products: MYperiodKIT.

“I missed a lot of classes, a lot of lectures, and it interfered with my academic performance,” Bamisaye told Mashable. “Visiting schools as part of my job brought me back into the community and … I met people going through the same situation as me over 20 years ago. I thought: ‘I need to do something.'”

MYperiodKIT provides girls with menstrual hygiene kits, including sanitary pads, tissue wipes, pantyliners, and disposable bags — all at an affordable cost — with the goal of keeping young girls in school. For those living in regions with limited access to running water, MYperiodKIT has even developed a sustainable, disposable sanitary pad made from banana and plantain stem fibre called “GreenPads.”

Profits from sales of the MYperiodKITs and GreenPads are reinvested in the program so that disadvantaged females who cannot afford the materials may also receive them “no matter your economic situation,” Bamisaye explained to Mashable.

“The justification for having MYperiodKIT is that girls and women residing in under-served areas around Nigeria are faced with huge challenge of coping with their menstrual period hygienically,” Bamisaye told She Leads Africa.

“Women and girls’ capacity to manage their periods is affected by factors including limited access to affordable hygienic sanitary materials and disposal options. This has led many girls and women to manage their periods ineffectively, uncomfortably and unhygienically.”

But by arming young women with these essential tools, she believes all of that can soon change.

Empowering youth is a recurring theme throughout Bamisaye’s career: In addition to launching MYperiodKIT, she is the the founder of Young Women Arise, an organization that educates young girls about Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), and she is the curator of Ablaze Ladies Camp, which provides participants with the needed skills for them to make informed decision about their SRHR, according to She Leads Africa.

Her latest work creating MYperiodKIT is already receiving praise, and Bamisaye was recently selected as a finalist to represent Nigeria in the $1 million global startup competition Chivas Venture.

But such recognition would only serve her greater goal, she said, telling Mashable, “The startup means to me that we will have girls who will no longer have to drop out of school just because they cannot afford a necessity as basic as menstrual hygiene.”

Women & Girls: 88% of Countries Restrict Women’s Economic Opportunity, the World Bank Says #sdgs #globalgoals #2030Now



104 countries prevent women from doing the same work as men.

Around the world, 167 countries have at least one law on the books that restricts women’s economic opportunity, a new study from the World Bank has found.

The Women, Business and the Law report measures how legislation in 189 countries affects women’s access to jobs, property, justice and credit, as well as provisions to protect them from violence and discrimination.

While the proportion of countries with discriminatory laws remained more or less the same since the last survey – 88 percent of countries surveyed this time had at least one restrictive law compared to 89 percent in 2016 – the report found there had been 87 legal reforms made in 65 countries to increase women’s economic opportunities over the past two years.

Since 2016, 28 countries have made it easier for women to get jobs, and 24 lifted restrictions on women building credit.

One of the most striking findings this year is that women in 104 countries are prevented from working in the same way as men – a figure that surprised even the project’s program manager, Sarah Iqbal.

“It was shocking to me that so many economies all around the world restrict women’s work,” she said.


The report cites the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Iraq as having made the most progress on legal rights for women in the past two years.

The DRC reformed its family code in July 2016, giving married women the right to take on work, open bank accounts and register a business without needing their husband’s permission. The DRC was also one of the countries to remove restrictions on women working at night, as well as introducing a range of anti-discrimination laws.

Kenya brought in legal aid provisions that improve women’s access to justice, and made it easier to build credit – often a barrier for women who want to start their own businesses.

Iraq, the only country in the top five outside sub-Saharan Africa, abolished the need for a woman to bring a male guardian with her to apply for a passport; it also criminalized sexual harassment and outlawed gender discrimination at work.


There is only one nation left – Equatorial Guinea – that requires a woman to have her husband’s permission to sign a contract. But women still need their husband’s permission to get a job in 18 countries.

Seventeen of them prevent women from traveling outside the home in the same way as men, and six restrict women’s ability to travel outside the country – both figures unchanged since 2016.


A major barrier raised in the report is women’s right to work at night.

Women are prevented from working the same night hours as men in 29 countries, including India, which prohibits them from working in factories between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. India’s female labor participation rate is one of the lowest in the world at 24 percent. In Sri Lanka, women are not allowed to work after 10 p.m. in the retail sector – a restriction, Iqbal said, that employers aren’t happy with.

“It should be a matter of choice – women should be allowed to get the jobs that they are qualified for,” she said.


The report notes that many of the most restrictive laws – including those that require a woman to have her husband’s permission to work or restrict the kinds of work a woman can do – come from old European legal codes that were introduced to sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Asia under colonization.

“The laws are just on the books but policymakers, who are mostly men, don’t realize that they’re holdovers. Because it’s not at the top of anyone’s agenda, it remains,” Iqbal said.

This was the case in the DRC, whose original family code was introduced by the Belgians. “It was based on the Napoleonic Code,” Iqbal said. “Married women had the same legal status as children.”

She refers to these laws as “low-hanging fruit” that can often be reformed by making lawmakers aware that they are a hangover from colonization, and that the colonizing nations themselves – such as the United Kingdom, France and Spain – have already abolished them.


Of the 87 legal reforms enacted across the world since the last survey, property rights improved in only one country. Ecuador repealed a law that favored husbands’ decisions in cases of disagreement between spouses on marital assets.

“A trend that we’ve noticed is that property laws are much slower to change than labor laws and gender-based violence laws,” Iqbal said. “These issues are very slow to change because they affect asset allocation.”

But, she said, that might not be such a bad thing in the long run. “If you reform property law too quickly you can engender a backlash that can work against women’s rights.”


Iqbal is hopeful that in the wake of the #Me Too movement, we’ll see more progress on laws that protect women from harassment at work in time for the next report in 2020. Today, 59 countries lack laws prohibiting sexual harassment, with Japan the only OECD high-income country not to offer women protection.

“A lot of laws that affect women don’t get enough attention,” she said. “The #Me Too movement has gotten everyone’s attention, and the law can make a difference in this area.”


Iqbal said a big message to take from the report was that every country in the world can do better on women’s equality, pointing to the United States – the only industrialized economy that does not have paid maternity leave – as a prime example.

“Nobody’s perfect, and I think that’s important for us to know. Often people assume that it’s a developed versus developing country issue, but every country could improve on something.”

This article originally appeared on Women’s Advancement Deeply. You can find the original here.

Quality Education: This Teen Got Full-Ride Scholarships to All 20 Colleges He Applied To #sdgs #globalgoals #2030Now


Some graduating seniors pin their college acceptance letters to the refrigerator for all family members to see. But for 17-year-old Michael Brown, getting accepted to Stanford in December on a full-ride scholarship was the beginning of an incredible journey that would land him in the pages of the Houston Chronicle, Washington Post, and New York Times.

This spring, Brown, a student at Lamar High School in Houston, received acceptance letters from not just one, but 20 schools — each offering him a full ride through a combination of scholarships and financial aid, the Houston Chronicle first reported.

The long list of colleges includes four Ivy League schools, liberal arts colleges Amherst and Pomona, and the Universities of Texas and Michigan.

Brown credits his mom, Berthinia Rutledge-Brown, for pushing him to succeed. While Michael was in elementary school, Berthinia attended Houston Community College in order to get her  associate’s degree, the Washington Post reported.

“That’s the first time I understood what going to college might look like,” Brown told the Washington Post. “And seeing how important it was to my mom was important to me. I don’t even think she really knew that I saw, that it had an impact on me — but it did.”

Until Michael received a full ride to Stanford, Berthinia worried she may be unable to pay for his college education — but now Michael has a very different decision in front of him: Harvard or Stanford?

Regardless of where he chooses to study, Brown hopes his story can inspire others like him to get a college education.

“I want to remain humble through all this,” he said. “Out of all the students to achieve similar feats, I am just very happy and very honored to share my story and inspire other students.”

In Houston, where Brown is from, more than half of all black students attend low-income schools, the Atlantic reports. According to a 2011 report, drop-out rates for black students in Houston was 16%, far above that of other demographics.

But these discrepancies aren’t unique to just the Houston area.

Nationwide, the achievement gap between black and white students has barely budged in the past 50 years, according to Education Next. As reported in the 2013 National Assessment for Educational Progress, black students were, on average, in the 19th percentile for reading and 22nd for math.