United Nations: Hillary Clinton, a likely US presidential candidate, is urging the world to take action and address "the great unfinished business of the 21st century" the achievement of equality for women that 189 nations called for at a groundbreaking UN conference 20 years ago.
Clinton came to the Beijing conference as the US first lady and brought delegates to their feet in a keynote speech that inspired women around the world when she declared: "Human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights."
In the introduction to a new report on the status of women in 2015, she recalled those words and said the latest data provides evidence that advancing the full participation of women and girls expands global prosperity and stability.
The report entitled "No Ceilings," to be released Monday, assesses the gains and gaps for women and girls since the 1995 conference and concludes that "there has never been a better time to be born female." But it says change has been far too slow when it comes to women's security, economic opportunity and leadership.
"I hope it serves as a wake-up call, and also as a call to action for us all," Clinton wrote. "Unlocking the potential of women and girls around the world is both the right thing to do and it is also the smart thing to do."
According to the acknowledgments, the report grew out of "the mutual commitment" of Melinda Gates and Hillary and Chelsea Clinton to women's and girls' rights and opportunities. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation joined forces with The Economist Intelligence Unit and the WORLD Policy Analysis Center at UCLA to produce it.
On the plus side, the report said more than 95 percent of the 56 national constitutions adopted after 1995 guarantee gender equality, compared with 79 percent of those enacted earlier.
The life span of girls born today is almost 73 years, on average, about four years more than in 1995. The number of women who die in childbirth has decreased by 42 per cent globally since 1995, with the biggest reduction in South Asia.
Girls and boys attend primary school at nearly equal rates worldwide and primary school is now tuition-free in almost 90 percent of low-income countries.
But on the negative side, the report said more than 170 countries currently have legal barriers in place that prevent women and girls from experiencing the same rights, protections and liberties as men and boys.
An estimated 1.4 million girls are never born every year, largely due to the preference for sons in China and India.
Violence against women remains "a global epidemic" with one in three women worldwide experiencing physical or sexual attacks. An estimated 200 million fewer women than men are on the Internet in the developing world, and 300 million fewer women own a mobile phone.