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International Women’s Day factcheckathon: Fact checks from around the world


Women shout slogans during an International Women’s Day rally in Rabat on March 8. (Reuters)

Members of the International Fact Checkers Association joined together to publish fact checks related to women’s issues on International Women’s Day 2015. The full list can be found here. Individual posts are listed below, with links to the full columns.

Africa: What is Zimbabwe’s real mortality rate?

Fact-check by AfricaCheck

Two conflicting claims for pregnancy and childbirth-related deaths in Zimbabwe have emerged in the past week. Do 525 women die for every 100,000 live births, or is the figure almost double that? Africa Check discovered that the data on which the claims are based are old. Zimbabwe’s most recent household survey, carried out in June 2014, shows 614 deaths per 100,000 live births for the seven-year period before the survey and 581 deaths per 100,000 live births for the preceding five years. But there are questions about the accuracy of mortality figures in a country that doesn’t have complete birth and death records.

Read the full fact-check here.

U.S.: Are Oxfam and UNDP’s numbers on women off-target?

Fact-check by The Washington Post Fact Checker

Oxfam, citing information from the U.N. Development Program, said women “provide 66 percent of the work, produce 50 percent of the food, but earn only 10 percent of the income and own 1 percent of the property.” But this factoid, frequently circulated around International Women’s Day, is based on fishy research from more than four decades ago. The numbers were never correct in the first place and thus earned Four Pinocchios. Oxfam and the UNDP conceded that the information was false, but The Fact Checker called on them to prominently correct all documents and Web sites that had previously run this material so this zombie fact can finally be terminated.

Read the full fact-check here.

Europe: Is the share of women in political decision-making roles less than 20 percent?

Fact-check by FactCheckEU

Federica Mogherini: “Despite the 30 percent target of women at decision-making levels that we endorsed in 1995, today women represent less than 20 percent of members of national parliaments, and even less among government ministers. Overall in the EU women occupy less than a third of political decision-making positions.”

Federica Mogherini is the closest the European Union has to a foreign minister. In a video message to a gathering in Santiago de Chile, she decried the slow progress made in increasing female representation in politics. The picture is slightly less bleak than the one indicated by Mogherini. Women represented 22.1 percent of all parliamentarians as of Jan. 1, 2015, according to data by the Inter-Parliamentary Union. She is more precise on the share of ministers (17 percent worldwide) but a little fuzzier in terms of women in political decision-making roles in the E.U. In fact, women are 37 percent of all members of the European Parliament, but only 32 percent of the commissioners, 28 percent of members of national parliaments and the same share of government ministers across the E.U. 28. Her statement is imprecise but not incorrect: “Almost.”

Read the full fact-check here.

U.S.: How is ISIS recruiting women?

Fact-check by PunditFact

CNN showed its audience a graphic that said, “ISIS LURES WOMEN WITH KITTENS, NUTELLA.” ISIS supporters create and promote propaganda messages that are more slickly produced and reach wider audiences than efforts from other terrorist groups. But to say they use kittens and Nutella to target women is incomplete and misleading. ISIS uses many tactics to persuade people to give up their lives for their fight, experts said. The real motivations for someone joining the fight run much deeper and are connected to the pursuit of identity and purpose. To boil down ISIS’ recruitment strategy of women to Nutella and kittens is a vast oversimplification that borders on the absurd. There is a shred of truth to this claim but not much beyond that. We rate it Mostly False.

Read the full fact-check here.

Turkey: How much did women’s participation in the workforce increase?

Efkan Ala: “The rate of women’s participation in labor force have increased to 45 percent whereas it was below 10 percent 10 years ago.”

Minister of Interior Efkan Ala claimed that the rate of women’s participation in labor force have increased to 45 percent, whereas it was below 10 percent 10 years ago. In order to fact-check this statement we refer to the data provided by Turkish Statistical Institute. According to the most recent data provided by the institute in September 2014, the rate of female participation in labor force is around 31.1 percent. In 2004 this rate was 23.3 percent. In other words, the actual increase in female participation in labor force in the last 10 years is 7.8 percent. Hence we conclude that Ala’s claim is false.

Read the full fact-check (in Turkish) here.

Argentina: Abortion and maternal mortality

Fact-check by Chequeado (Argentina)

Daniel Gollán: “Abortion is one of the causes of maternal mortality.”

The new health minister, Daniel Gollán, referred to the need to reduce the maternal mortality rate, and he pointed out that illegal abortions are part of the problem. Abortions conducted in insecure conditions are in fact the first cause of maternal death; they represented around 20 percent of the 245 deaths related to pregnancy in 2013. Argentina committed to the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, which include cutting by 75 percent the maternal mortality rate by 2015, compared to 1990, but the country is still far from reaching it. In Argentina, abortion is only legal in the case of rape or if the mother’s life is in danger. The statement is true.

Read the full fact-check (in Spanish) here.

Chile: Victims of physical or sexual violence

Fact-check by El Polígrafo (El Mercurio, Chile)

Michelle Bachelet: “One third of women in the word suffer some kind of physical or sexual violence.”

President Michelle Bachelet, using a WHO study from 2013, claimed that “one third of women in the world suffer some kind of physical or sexual violence.” But this is not true enough. The research is founded on databases from two territories of 79 countries instead of national samples. Also, the information considers violence against women of 15 to 49 years of age and use questionnaires which are not always comparable. Although the WHO report talks about the fact that one out of three women have suffered violence, it focuses on prevalence of violence in a lifetime, so it is important to note that it is not the same to say that one third of women “have experienced” once-in-a-lifetime violence, than to “experience” violence now or in the recent past, like experts explain. The statement is “Half True.”

You can read the full fact-check on Sunday’s “El Mercurio” or download the pdf (El Mercurio).

Italy: Is the homicide rate falling for men but not women?

Fact-check by Pagella Politica (Italy)

Laura Boldrini: “In 20 years the homicide rate for men has fallen by 75 percent while it has not changed for women.”

Laura Boldrini is the president of the Italian Chamber of Deputies and frequently comments on gender-related issues. In Italy, the homicide rate for men is nearly twice as high as that for women: 1.1 per 100 000 men vs. 0.58 per 100,000 women. That said, the homicide rates for men has fallen significantly since the 1990s (it was at or above 4 per 100,000 people 20 years ago), while it has remained essentially unchanged for women. The statement is true.

Read the full fact-check (in Italian) here.

Uruguay: Are there a record number of women in government?

Fact-check by UYCheck (Uruguay)

Mónica Xavier: “Today we celebrate the Cabinet with more women in the history of our country.”

During the Frente Amplio governments, the two pasts and the one recently elected, the political spaces for women has been much more open than in any other time in Uruguay. When Vázquez assumed for the first time (in 2005), three women were designated as part of the Cabinet. Last March 1, with the assumption of the second presidency of Vázquez, and the third of his party, five women were named as ministers. So the claim is true.
Read the full fact-check (in Spanish) here.

Brazil: ‘Safe homes’ for women in every state?

Dilma Rousseff: “We are implementing in all 27 state capitals the ‘House of Brazilian Women.”

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff made this claim at the seminar “Women in Power and Decision Making: Building a Different World,” hosted in Chile, on March 1. The “House of the Brazilian Women,” which provides support, assistance and protection to women that are victims of violence, has already established agreements with 26 state capitals. The only Brazilian capital that is not part of the initiative is the city of Recife, in Pernambuco. However the only “House of Brazilian Women” opened until this moment is located in Mato Grosso do Sul. Our verdict is: “too early to tell.”

Read the full fact-check (in Portuguese) here.

 

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