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AT THE ASIAN WOMEN'S LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE

One in three women experiences violence, says UN study
by Bernama

KUCHING, Thurs, Oct 20, 2000: One in three women will experience violence, most often from someone known to them, an Australian woman leader told the Asian Women's Leadership Conference here.

Linley Lord said that a United Nations report, Worlds Apart, revealed that women today remain subject to discrimination and violence although some of their male counterparts have been highly supportive of their advancement in all fields.

In her working paper entitled Leadership: A Question of Competence or Gender, she said the study included a number of findings as progress has been slow, even in countries where action has been taken or equality enshrined in legislative requirements.

Lord, who is the Edith Cowan University's Equity and Diversity and Women in Leadership project manager, said that the study also showed that around 500,000 worldwide die each year as a result of pregnancy while some 80 million pregnancies a year are unwanted or unintended.

Of the 300 million children without access to education, it was found that two-thirds were girls and two-thirds of the 880 million illiterate adults were women.

She said Worlds Apart points out that numerous studies have shown that educating girls raises every index of development and that economic returns on investment in women's education exceeded that for men.

Yet, despite such findings, investment in women's development is at a much lower rate that men as it appears that the question of gender is far more significant than the outcome of investment, she said.

Quoting a recent article in the Far Eastern Economic Review, she noted that Malaysia is one of the world's most developed Islamic societies with its women now outnumbering men at universities.

However, Malaysia, which "has made depressingly little progress in overcoming a daunting range of institutionalised inequalities and prejudice, perpetuated largely by conservatives in the religious establishment" was not alone, she said.

In Southeast Asia, the road to success, especially in the Asian milieu, is fraught with difficulties imposed by traditional value systems.

Women remain the world's most marginalised group and they outnumber men living in absolute poverty, she said.

Copyright Bernama. Used with permission.

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