Today is the 100th anniversary of International Women's day, a day designed to celebrate the equal status of the sexes and promote equality in those regions where women still do not have equal rights to men. It is a well known ideal that development cannot be achieved in full without granting equal status and rights, and under the UN Millennium Development Goals set to be achieved for 2015, many of the 8 distinct regions for these targets focus on improving the status and living conditions for women worldwide.
How do we go about measuring this in geography? The answer is in many different ways, one of the goals is to ensure that in primary and secondary education, both girls and boys are enrolled and studying to achieve a universal literacy rate. This map, reproduced from the UN website (Ref:Gender equality and empowerment of women: education status. (2005). In UNEP/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics Library. Retrieved 12:47, March 8, 2011 from http://maps.grida.no/go/graphic/gender_equality_and_empowerment_of_women_education_status.) is an excellent example of how much has been achieved, and maps the number of girls per 100 boys enrolled in primary and secondary schools within each country.
There are some suprises here too, the Republic of Ireland trails behin the UK and much of Europe, being in the 0.5 - 0.6 category, Venezuela comes out as the highest in South America at 0.6 - 0.7, and the most equal places for womens earnings are eastern Africa, Australia and Scandinavia.