Skip to main content

By the numbers: Women's progress (or not) around the world

By Caitlin Stark, CNN
updated 8:42 AM EST, Thu March 8, 2012
Turkish women protest in Ankara on Thursday, International Women's Day.
Turkish women protest in Ankara on Thursday, International Women's Day.
  • International Women's Day is March 8
  • It was first observed more than 100 years ago
  • Take a look at how U.S. women compare with others in areas of jobs, education and more

(CNN) -- What's it like to be a woman today? On Thursday, the world marks International Women's Day, first observed more than 100 years ago.

Decades later, take a look at how women fare in the areas of education, jobs and more, and how American women compare with others around the world:

Health and well-being

86 years -- The average life expectancy for a woman in Japan, the longest in the world

81 years -- The average life expectancy for a woman in the United States

44 years -- The average life expectancy for women in Afghanistan and Zimbabwe, the shortest in the world

16.5 million -- The approximate number of women living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, 50% of the total number

59% -- The percentage of HIV-positive adults in Sub-Saharan Africa who are female, approximately 12.9 million people

21% -- The percentage of HIV-positive adults in North America who are female, approximately 252,000 people

54% -- The percentage of U.S. women who died of heart disease, cancer and strokes in 2007 out of all causes -- approximately 658,000 people

177 -- Number of countries that provide paid maternity leave

0 -- Amount of paid maternity leave guaranteed in the United States

Labor and employment

91% -- The percentage of a man's paycheck that a woman in Sweden earns, working in manufacturing

57% -- The percentage of a man's paycheck that a woman in South Korea earns, working in manufacturing

81% -- The percentage of a man's paycheck that a woman in the United States earns, in all fields

58% -- The percentage of U.S. women who participate in the work force, up from 33% in 1950

0 -- Number of female CEOs in the top 20 companies on the Fortune 500


86% -- The percentage of girls enrolled in primary school worldwide

39 million -- Number of girls worldwide who are not in school, 54% of the total number of children

850,000 -- Number of girls in North America and Western Europe not in school

510 million -- Number of illiterate women worldwide, two-thirds of the total number of illiterate people

87% -- Percentage of U.S. women who have at least a high school diploma

28% -- Percentage of U.S. women who have at least a college degree


95 -- The number of women serving in the 112th Congress in the United States

17% -- The percentage of U.S. Congress members who are female

56% -- The percentage of Rwanda's parliament who are female

2 -- The number of countries that allowed women to vote in 1911

2 -- The number of countries that prohibit women from voting in 2012 (Saudi Arabia and Vatican City)

Part of complete coverage on
updated 4:41 PM EDT, Tue July 15, 2014
When Bobbi Brown set out to create her eponymous makeup line in 1991, she had one thing to her mind -- to make a lipstick that looked like lips.
updated 5:14 AM EDT, Tue July 15, 2014
The Cornell educated executive, who is hotly tipped as the successor to magnate Steve Wynn, is about to unveil the latest Wynn Palace in Macau.
updated 7:54 AM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
From Coco Chanel to DVF, CNN takes a look at celebrated fashion designers and the iconic pieces which launched their careers.
updated 7:15 AM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
:KNOXVILLE, TN - MAY 28: Dolly Parton performs during a concert to benefit Dolly's Imagination Library & Dr. Robert F. Thomas Foundation at The University of Tennessee's Thompson-boling Arena on May 28, 2014 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 05: Debbie Harry of Blondie performs onstage at the Amnesty International Concert presented by the CBGB Festival at Barclays Center on February 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for CBGB)
When titans of music Dolly Parton and Debbie Harry perform at one of the biggest music festivals on the planet, Glastonbury, who will be crowned queen?
updated 9:49 AM EDT, Tue June 17, 2014
2 Caption:Avignon, FRANCE: Serb artist Marina Abramovic performs in 'The Biography Remix' directed by Michael Laub from Netherlands, 10 July 2005 at the Benoix-XII house during the Theater Festival held in Avignon southern France. AFP PHOTO ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT (Photo credit should read ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images)
CNN meets Serbian-born New-York based performance artist Marina Abramovic, as she embarks on the most controversial show of her career.
updated 9:25 AM EDT, Fri May 9, 2014
This Mother's Day, we're celebrating the many women in the world who have provided care, love and guidance for children who are not biologically their own.
updated 11:06 AM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
She turned her bohemian beach style and love of ballet shoes into a billion-dollar brand. This week on Leading Women, fashion designer Tory Burch reveals her ultimate style guru.
updated 12:23 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Meet Mo Abudu, the talk show host portraying a very different Africa. As a glamorous presenter, she also heads up Ebony Life TV network, based in Nigeria.
updated 5:36 AM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
A lone blonde woman, wrapped in nothing but a sarong, leads four camels and a little dog across one of the most inhabitable environments on Earth.
updated 8:16 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Their job is capturing the most horrifying images on Earth -- keeping their eyes open, where others must look away. Meet Kate Brooks and Gerda Taro, the war photographers of today and yesterday.
updated 2:19 PM EDT, Tue March 25, 2014
Gloria Steinem speaks onstage during Equality Now presents 'Make Equality Reality' at Montage Hotel on November 4, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
As Gloria Steinem turns 80, Kathleen McCartney highlights the remarkable life of the feminist so far.
updated 11:50 AM EST, Wed February 26, 2014
Former U.S. State Deparment Anne-Marie Slaughter says Brad Pitt is 'posterchild for engaged fatherhood'.
updated 3:50 AM EDT, Wed May 7, 2014
Ahead of the release of her 14th studio album, take a look at the remarkable career of Mariah Carey, who went from curly-haired girl next door to elusive chanteuse.
updated 11:32 AM EST, Sat March 8, 2014
CNN hosted a Tweetchat on gender equality with special guests including Nobel Peace prize laureate Tawakkol Karman. Here's what you missed.
updated 6:59 AM EDT, Thu March 13, 2014
From shaving her head for climate change to opting for a sustainable business model, Vivienne Westwood is simply unstoppable.
updated 11:02 AM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
In what would be a dream come true for her alter ego, Carrie Bradshaw -- Sarah Jessica Parker has turned her love of fashion into a new shoe range with Manolo Blahnik.