Margaret Eby
March 06, 2015 11:25 am

The next time someone tries to tell you that the work of feminism is completed, you can point them to this gut-wrenching statistic: A little girl born today will be 81 years old before she has the same chance as a man to be the CEO of a company.

That’s from Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the executive director of UN women, who spoke to the Associated Press ahead of International Women’s Day, about a new report from the United Nations’ International Labor Organization.

Mlambo-Ngcuka is assessing the progress that countries have made in the last two decades since the U.N. women’s conference in Beijing. Thought there’s been some motion in the right direction, there are still fewer than 20 female heads of state. In fact, she noted, not a single country of the 189 that adopted the blueprint hammered out at that conference has achieved gender equality. Women still earn 77% of the amount men make, and that’s only improved by 3 points in 20 years.

“We just don’t have critical mass to say that post-Beijing women have reached a tipping point in their representation.”

Next week, a meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women will review the platform adopted in Beijing, 20 years ago, and see what can be done to achieve their goals.

Mlambo-Ngcuka and UN Women plan to call on major world leaders, CEOs and universities to stand up for equality and examine gender biases in their own fields in order to make progress on behalf of women.

If world leaders took a stand “very strongly and very openly” for women’s rights, she notes, “we’ve got something to work with, taking the campaign forward.”

(Image via Shutterstock)