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This House of Lords Library briefing provides background reading in advance of International Women’s Day, held on 8 March each year, which celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2016 is ‘Pledge For Parity’, which aims to accelerate gender parity worldwide. The United Nations, which marks International Women’s Day with its own theme each year, has designated its theme for 2016 as ‘Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality’.

In its Global Gender Gap Report 2015, the World Economic Forum—an international organisation for public-private cooperation based in Geneva, Switzerland—ranked the UK the 18th most gender-equal society in the world. In addition, the report ranked the UK 37th, one place below Chile (36) and one place above Poland (38), in its ‘Educational Attainment’ subindex measure; 43rd, one place below Russia (42) and one place above Cameroon (44), in its ‘Economic Participation and Opportunity’ subindex measure; 66th, together with Belgium, in terms of its gender gap by the report’s ‘Health and Survival’ subindex measure; and 23rd, one place below Argentina (22) and one place above Italy (24), in its ‘Political Empowerment’ subindex measure.

This briefing provides background information on International Women’s Day and the themes for 2016. It then summarises a recent report from the World Economic Forum on the worldwide gender gap, before providing information on the UK context in the areas of education, economy, health and politics, with an emphasis on statistical information relevant to the theme of gender parity.

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