Every Woman Out There Needs To Read This Today

This morning, Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, and Melinda Gates came together to do something incredible:  to talk about women. Not just in an abstract sense. Or, even in a hopes-and-dreams-and-policy-recommendations way. Today, they dug deep into a comprehensive data project and talked about the reality of where we are now. Today. 

An incredible 20 years after The Fourth World Conference on Women, in Beijing in 1995, The Clinton Foundation has released No Ceilings: The Full Participation Report, a comprehensive look at the progress we've made in these past two decades — and, even more important, the challenges (and opportunities) that still lie ahead.

The numbers are impressive, and there's an incredible interactive map as well as a range of reports for you to dig into over at No Ceilings, but in case you want the CliffsNotes version, we pulled out some of the most important stats and figures and put them into one handy-dandy graphic, right here. These are the numbers you have to know in order to understand what we're up against — when it comes to sexual assault, child marriage, access to education, the very real pay gap, and so much more. 
Designed by Elliot Salazar.
The good news: A lot fewer women are dying during childbirth today than they were 20 years ago. Forty-two percent fewer, to be precise. And, all but nine countries across the globe offer paid maternity leave. 

Except, the U.S. is one of those countries not offering it. Less great. 

Also not great: A quarter of women across the globe were child brides (meaning they were married prior to the age of 18). That's the same percentage of parliament seats held by women today. And, in the U.S. Congress, the percentage of seats held by women is even lower, clocking in at 20%. 

Even worse: One in three women is a victim of sexual assault in her lifetime. 
The bottom line: We're not anywhere near full and equal participation for women. 

So, what happens next? Secretary Clinton speaks to the U.N. about all of the above tomorrow. And, pushes ahead on the 10-point action plan laid out here

In the meantime, to dig a little deeper into why all of these staggering inequalities are so important, we spoke to Chelsea Clinton about the motivation behind this project — and where we go from here. 

Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty Images.
What do you hope the No Ceilings report accomplishes? 
"We really hope that this data provides a common set of facts and understanding of where women are around the world — and also where women are here in the United States in terms of workforce participation. Because what we have found in our qualitative research is that so many young women here in the United States just sort of take for granted that there are these ceilings and that they just can’t do anything about the ceilings, economically or socially or politically.

And, sometimes there’s a shame attached to feeling that they are held back by the ceilings. We want to say, ‘No, there’s no shame; there are still very real ceilings; we have made progress, but we still have a long ways to go.’"

What kind of tactical advice can you offer women who want to break through those ceilings?     
"There are some things that you as an individual woman can do — ask for a raise, ask for opportunities — but there are also things that your employer needs to do to ensure that you can fully and equally participate [in the same way as] your male colleagues. That can be ensuring paid time off for mothers of infants. I mean, the United States is one of only nine countries in the world that doesn’t provide paid time off for mothers of infant children. Or, it can be ensuring that women have the same types of mentorship that has clearly been crucial to men’s success over time.

"So, I think the message really is that there’s a lot that you as an individual woman can do to propel yourself forward, but to ensure that each of us is able to fully participate, we need our employers and our government to create the conditions [that allow us to] do that. We can do a lot on our own, but we can’t do all of it on our own."

And, what would you say to women who feel apprehensive about having children, because they're worried it will negatively impact their earning potential?
"Here in the United States, our view with Full Participation is that every young woman, anywhere and everywhere, will be able to fully participate in the life of her family, her community, her economy, and her country, however she would want to. That absolutely means that every woman has to be empowered to make the right choices for herself and her family, both in terms of planning ahead and in navigating through when each of us does start a family.

"Some of it is about changing legal frameworks and enforcing laws, some of it is about changing behaviors and norms within companies, and some of it is about making sure women feel comfortable having those conversations and asking for what each of us needs to be as successful as we want to be both at home and at work. And, ensuring that women can be both mothers and employees in the same way that men can be both fathers and employees."

What about political participation? Only 22 percent of eligible millennials voted in this past election. How can we get young women to the polls, especially? 
"It’s something that I think a lot about. In this country, it's about ensuring that young people understand why it is so important that we vote — and recognize that our vote is our voice into the political process. And, if we want leaders to care about the issues that are important to us, we have to vote.

"I think that for so many young people — and so many Americans, really, with Congress having a historically low approval rate — there’s just not an understanding of why that is so important, because at the moment so little seems to be happening. But, if you look at history, we see that when young people participated — with voting and with expressing ourselves outside of the ballot box, whether it’s through the Civil Rights Movement, or the women’s rights movement — that that really made a difference. That led to changes in laws and policies that enfranchised and empowered more Americans than had historically ever been true.

"I would also say that I think for young women, as for anyone, it’s hard to imagine what you can’t see. And, although we’ve made tremendous progress in this country, we’re still at only 20% of the Senate and the House together being women. Outside this country only a third of countries have ever had or currently have a female president or prime minister. So, I hope that more and more young women in the United States and around the world seriously consider and ultimately do decide to run for office because I think that will be even more powerful to ensuring the women’s issues and young women’s issues are on the agenda. And, it will also inspire even more young women to participate in the political process."