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Executive Summary for February 23rd

In this week’s executive summary for Women’s Advancement Deeply: the relationship between gender equality and women in science, a win for divorce campaigners in the Philippines and India’s women and land rights ranking.

Published on Feb. 23, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Greater Gender Equality Means Fewer Women in Science

Women are more likely to pursue a degree in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in countries with lower levels of gender equality, a surprising new study has found.

Researchers from the University of Missouri and Leeds Beckett University analyzed data on 470,000 adolescents, finding that girls were more likely to study for STEM degrees in the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Algeria than in Norway, Finland and Sweden.

The researchers posit that this “gender-equality paradox” could be due to girls’ overall superiority in reading – even when girls and boys demonstrated similar ability in STEM subjects. Gender-equal countries also tend to provide more financial security for women, allowing them to follow their passions rather than pursuing “safer” careers in STEM to guarantee a stable economic future.

Philippines Inches Closer to Legalizing Divorce

A bill to legalize divorce in the Philippines, the only major country in the world where it is illegal, has passed the committee stage in the country’s House of Representatives.

The bill has progressed farther than any previous attempt at legalizing divorce.

The Act of Absolute Divorce and Dissolution of Marriage passed the committee stage on Feb. 21. The bill will be debated in the next plenary session and supporters hope it could become law in March. If passed, it will provide for the division of assets, child support and payment of damages when a couple divorces.

Currently, without the option to divorce, married couples who wish to part ways must have their marriage annulled or voided, or they must seek a legal separation, which does not allow for remarriage. As News Deeply reported this week, without access to affordable separation procedures or the prospect of ongoing child support, it is women who suffer most under this restrictive marriage regime.

The Best and Worst Indian States for Women’s Land Rights

A ranking of women’s land rights in India has found that the remote island atoll state of Lakshadweep tops the country for female landholders, while Punjab is the worst-performing state.

Women comprise 41 percent of landholders in Lakshadweep, a collection of islands off India’s southwest coast, and 34 percent in the northeastern state of Meghalaya, an index produced by the Center for Land Governance found. In the large, agrarian states, women fare much worse, comprising 7 percent of landholders in Rajasthan, 6 percent in Uttar Pradesh and a mere 0.8 percent in Punjab.

Overall, women hold only 12.8 percent of agricultural land in India.

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