Chelsea Clinton on women: Progress is not success

chelsea clinton internet week

Women in the developing world have far less Internet access than men -- and that's a big problem when it comes to earning potential, employment and education.

Getting online is just one of the many challenges women face. A new report offers a comprehensive analysis of how far women have come over the last two decades and how far they still need to go.

The report's findings were highlighted Thursday by Chelsea Clinton at Internet Week New York. (The Clinton Foundation was one of the organizations behind the report, which looked at data from 190 countries and outlets like the United Nations and Facebook (FB, Tech30).)

Billions of people connect to the Internet around the world. But according to the report, an estimated 200 million fewer women than men are online in developing countries, and 300 million fewer women own a mobile phone.

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The importance of connectivity was quantified by Intel (INTC, Tech30), which found that when women in developing countries are able to get online, 30% increase their income, 80% use it for education and about half use it to search for jobs.

The report cited examples of female farmers in Uganda who are able to check current market prices and health workers in Pakistan who can connect with patients via text.

Looking at the United States, Clinton said there were plenty of areas where treatment of women could be improved.

Before the report came out, she said she didn't know that the United States is only one of nine countries that doesn't have paid maternity leave. She said it's time to change that.

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"It's important for us to make a statement as a country," she said, adding that the other countries that lack paid maternity leave are "largely small island nation states in the South Pacific that don't have nearly the same resources that we do here in the United States."

Clinton also noted that globally, women's participation in the labor force has not improved, even as access to the Internet has increased.

In 1995, 55% of women 16 and older were in school full time or working. The numbers were the same in 2014. Clinton said it surprised her -- but then she looked closer.

"[It's] less surprising when you realize there's still more than 100 countries that have restrictions on what women can do in terms of jobs," she said, pointing out that women in some countries can't open bank accounts, and others can't legally sign a business contract.

Clinton warned that in looking at the data, "progress cannot be mistaken for success."

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