Margaret Thatcher became the first UK female prime minister in 1979; Theresa May is now its second. What has changed for women worldwide since 1979?
From Thatcher to May: What's changed for women in the last 37 years?
Updated 1159 GMT (1959 HKT) July 13, 2016
Margaret Thatcher became the United Kingdom's first female prime minister in 1979; Theresa May now becomes its second. Some things are still the same 37 years later. (Queen Elizabeth still rules the roost in Buckingham Palace, for example.) But here's what has changed for women worldwide between 1979 and now:
ONLY A FEW COUNTRIES HAVE FEMALE LEADERS
Thatcher was one of only two elected women running a country when she became prime minister in 1979. There had been others before her elsewhere in the world -- Indira Gandhi of India and Golda Meir in Israel, for example -- and there have been dozens since. But even now, a very small number of countries have women in charge.
... BUT THE NUMBER OF FEMALE LAWMAKERS IS RISING
There were so few women in parliaments in 1979 that the Inter-Parliamentary Union doesn't even have statistics going back that far. But since they started tracking the information in 1997, the number of female lawmakers has risen from about one in 10 worldwide to just over one in five.
... AND WOMEN CAN VOTE EVERYWHERE
This may sound crazy today, but in 1979 several countries didn't allow women to vote. That includes Lichtenstein, the last country in Europe to grant women suffrage (they came around in 1984). Saudi Arabia was last country in the world to grant women the right to vote, in 2015.
WOMEN ARE MORE IN CONTROL OF THEIR LIVES
The average number of births per women worldwide has fallen steadily for decades. Experts use that statistic as a rough guide for how much control women have over their own lives. The fewer children a woman has, the greater control she is probably exercising. The U.N. says lower birth rates help women get out of poverty.
... AND MORE ARE GETTING AN EDUCATION
More good news here. In 1979, there were nearly 80 million school-age girls around the world who were not going to school. The number now is less than half that, even as the total global population has increased by 60%.
THEY STILL LIVE LONGER THAN MEN
Life expectancy for both men and women is rising, with women living about five years longer than men both then and now.
... BUT THEY'RE STILL NOT GETTING PAID AS MUCH
Not by a long way. Globally, women are only paid 52% of what men are paid, according to the World Economic Forum. The organization has only been tracking the gender gap for 10 years, but the Economic Policy Institute compared pay in the United States in 1979 and now. Back then, American women earned about two-thirds of when men did. Now, it's a little over 80%.
THEY STILL RULE (THE CHARTS) THOUGH
The best-selling single by a woman in the U.K. this year is Sia's "Cheap Thrills." Back in 1979, it was a prediction for women that Gloria Gaynor got right: "I Will Survive."
- Rio 2016: Canadian women one win from Olympic soccer medal
- Canada gets 5th place in women’s rowing eight
- Australia risks slamming door on billions worth of investment
- How the Matildas move on from Olympic heartbreak
- For proud Pearls, the world is their oyster
- Pickton victim's family angry about Wings' 'Willie Pickton' drink
- B.C. government appealing to Amazon to stop selling Pickton: In His Own Words
- Former detective Lori Shenher haunted by Robert Pickton case
- U.S. Declares Health Emergency in Puerto Rico Over Zika Virus
- The Latest: 3 UK athletes hoping for 'Super Saturday' in Rio
- US women's soccer heads home after early Olympic exit
- Prime minister Theresa May dodges Brexit debate with summer holiday in neutral Switzerland
You might also like
- Beijing Offers to Negotiate in South China Sea Dispute
- South China Sea Ruling Gives Smaller Claimants Leverage
- IMF Raises Projection for Russian Economic Growth
- Donald Trump’s Immigration Policies Would Cost New York City Jobs, Speaker Says
- Bill Would Forbid Firms From Getting Workers’ Birth-Control Details
- German Police Carry Out Nationwide Crackdown on Internet Hate Speech
- Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton Locked in Tight Race in Ohio and Iowa, Polls Find
- How to Take Your Kids Out to Eat and Actually Enjoy the Experience
- Contractor Ordered to Create PSAs After Manslaughter Conviction
- FBI Director Comey Calls Agency’s Lack of Diversity a ‘Crisis’
- U.K. Faces Brexit Dilemma Over Europol
- Italy Vows to Improve Rail Safety After Deadly Crash
- Powerful South Carolina political consultant implicated in indictments of a veteran state senator
- Will Donald Trump get a second Supreme Court nomination?
- "Hazing" rituals await Supreme Court's "junior justice" Neil Gorsuch
- The hunt is on for Planet Nine. Here's how to join it
- Trump approves controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline
- Trump praises 'Fox & Friends,' renews old feuds in early morning tweets
- Rex Tillerson finally answers question from NBC News' Andrea Mitchell
- First Read's Morning Clips: The Latest in the Russia Investigation
- Spicer: 'I've let the president down'
- Russian President Vladimir Putin met with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday
- OMB Diriector Mick Mulvaney: Washington's 'a lot more broken' than Trump thought
- Trump attacks conservatives over failure of health care bill
- A very consequential week didn't go well for President Trump
- Health Care Showdown: Republicans look to go big or go home
- No deal on health care bill after conservatives meet with Trump
- CA gov on those supporting health bill: 'Their name is going to be mud'
- Give it to me straight, doc: Is Obamacare dying?
- First Read's Morning Clips: Waiting for CBO
- 14 People Share What's It's Really Like to Have An Ex Who Is Now Their In-Law
- The Internet Is Freaking Out About The Way This Chef Cuts Pizza
- After a rocky start, Trump and Merkel are set to meet. Can they overcome their differences?
- Far-right populism falters with Dutch vote, but remains a powerful force
- Russia's meddling in other nations' elections is nothing new. Just ask the Europeans
- Leaders from various nations pledge $6 billion in humanitarian aid for Syria
- In Liverpool there's just one game in town — soccer — but two teams just a mile apart
- A football (translation: soccer) fan's guide to Manchester
- Europe closes mixed; Stoxx 600 reaches yearly highs amid geopolitical concerns
- One suspect with 'Islamist links' arrested in connection with Dortmund bus attack
- N Ireland could face direct rule if powersharing talks fail, says Brokenshire
- Germans open their homes to Monaco fans after Dortmund attack
- Coca-Cola UK HQ blocked by sculpture protest
- Huge fire destroys French refugee camp
- French police on the hunt for poachers who killed a white rhino in a zoo
- Germany's challenge: How will schools absorb thousands of Syrian children?
- Russia reopens 1998 murder probe; Putin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky is a suspect
- Postal worker believed he would never see family again, kidnap trial told
- Latest: Tragic deaths not the first time O'Brien family devastated by fire
- UK's May defeated as lawmakers demand power to reject final Brexit terms
- Germany’s ‘powerhouse’ economy is cracking and investors need to be wary, economist warns
- ECB holds interest rates at zero percent; Draghi says sense of urgency easing