Paraguay is ranked 3rd out of 86 in the 2012 Social Institutions and Gender Index. The country was ranked 1st out of 102 in the 2009 Social Institutions and Gender Index.
The 2011 Human Development Index (HDI) score for the country is 0.665 placing it in 107th place (out of 187 countries). The Gender Inequality Index score is 0.476. Paraguay’s Global Gender Gap Index rating for 2011 is 0.6818, placing it in 67th place (out of a total of 135 countries).
The Civil Code of Paraguay was amended in 1992 to provide women and men the equal rights to enter into marriage. The minimum age of marriage is 16 for both males and females. However, women and men under the age of 20 require the authorisation of parents or guardians to enter into marriage. Although the law treats women and men equally, in practice, young women who marry experience consequential discrimination where they may be required to leave their studies because of pregnancy. Young men, in comparison, can pursue studies following marriage. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women has recommended that the minimum age of marriage be raised to 18 years of age for both women and men.
The United Nations reports, based on 2002 data that 12 per cent of girls between 15 and 19 years of age were married, divorced or widowed in Paraguay, compared to 2 percent of boys in the same age range. In 1992, 17 percent of girls aged between 15 and 19 were married, divorced or widowed which indicates that societal acceptance of early marriage has declined in the last decade. The adolescent fertility rate was reported to be 72 births per 1000 women aged 15-19 in 2008, having decreased over the last decade. Women’s organisations reported in 2011 that the high rate of adolescent pregnancies prevents students from continuing and finishing school, because even though expulsion is prohibited, pregnancy is socially unacceptable for adolescent unmarried females.
Bigamy is prohibited under the Penal Code in Paraguay.
Under the Children’s Code, men and women exercise identical rights with respect to parental authority and guardianship of children. With respect to the household, the law provides that both spouses jointly exercise legal representation of the conjugal unit with identical rights and duties. The law in Paraguay also provides for absolute divorce where both spouses have the same rights. The Constitution also provides for the right to freely and responsibly choose the number and spacing of children.
Under the Civil Code, men and women in Paraguay have equal legal rights to inheritance of immovable and movable property.
With respect to household decision-making, a 2004 survey conducted by the Paraguayan Centre of Population Studies found that for currently married women, family decisions are usually taken together by her and her partner. However, among women separated or divorced, she usually made the decisions in the family.
 CEDAW (2004a) p.24  CEDAW (2005c) para.32  CEDAW (2005a) p.5  United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2008)  OECD (2010)  CEDAW (2011)  CEDAW (2004) p.7  CEDAW (2004a) p.24  CEDAW (2004a) p.24  World Bank (2010)  Paraguayan Center of Population Studies (2004)
Rape is prohibited under the Penal Code in Paraguay. The US Department of State reports that the law also criminalises spousal rape and provides penalties of up to 10 years in prison for rape or forcible sexual assault. If the victim is a minor under the age of 18, the sentences range from three to 15 years. Legislation specifically prohibiting domestic violence was introduced in 2000. However, the law provides that violence must be habitual which means that one-off incidents of violence are not covered by the law. Further, the law only applies in cases where the perpetrator and victim are living in the same house. After an amendment in 2008, the law covers mental and physical abuse. The law stipulates a penalty of two years in prison or a fine for those who are convicted of domestic violence. Sexual harassment is prohibited by the Penal Code. 
Violence against women is a serious problem in Paraguay. A 2004 survey conducted by the Paraguayan Centre of Population Studies found that of all ever-married women, 33 percent reported verbal abuse, 19 percent physical abuse and 8 percent sexual abuse from their current or former partner at sometime during their life. Among all women, 7 percent reported that they had been raped at least one time. Of these, 59 percent reported that the first (or only) rape occurred before 20 years of age. The majority of rapes were perpetrated by those known to the victims.  In 2009,The Secretariat of Women's Affairs received 2,409 domestic abuse complaints, an 18 percent increase from 2008. In 2009, 27 women died at the hand of a current or former partner.
Despite the existence of laws, ineffective enforcement mechanisms pose challenges for the protection of women. Despite increased reports of domestic violence, complaints were often withdrawn soon after filing due to spousal reconciliation or family pressure. In some cases the courts mediated in domestic violence cases. The lack of awareness of the laws and available remedies is a key challenge  For instance, a survey in 2001 found that the majority of the population were unaware of the law and this lack of awareness was a key barrier preventing women reporting violence and pressing charges. Further, the government reports that there is still a degree of resistance from agencies in intervening in cases of domestic violence. An evaluation of the domestic violence law recommended that 24-hour service at Justice of Peace offices to increase access by victims. Further, greater training was needed for police and law personnel, as well as more public awareness about the law and violence against women more generally. With respect to rape, according to the US Department of State, the government generally prosecuted rape allegations and often obtained convictions. However, many rapes went unreported, and the police were generally reluctant to act on rape reports.
The US Department of State reports that trafficking is a problem affecting women’s physical integrity in Paraguay. Anecdotal evidence suggested that each year several thousand individuals were trafficked domestically and internationally. An estimated 80 percent of the victims were young women and adolescent girls. Most victims were trafficked to Argentina (60 percent), Spain (16 percent), and Bolivia (13 percent). Most trafficking exploited victims for the purposes of prostitution, domestic servitude, and manual labour.
There is no evidence to indicate that female genital mutilation is practised in Paraguay.
Limitations on women’s reproductive rights also infringe upon women’s physical integrity in Paraguay. The Paraguayan Penal Code of 1997 in general prohibits abortions. Anyone who performs an abortion, including a woman who causes her own abortion or consents to it, is subject to15 to 30 months’ imprisonment. If the abortion is performed without the consent of the woman, the penalty is increased to 2 to 5 years’ imprisonment. Penalties are increased by 50 percent if the abortion is performed by the husband of the woman or by a member of a health profession. A woman who causes her own abortion to preserve her honour is subject to 6 to 12 months’ imprisonment, and the penalties imposed on a person who performs an illegal abortion are decreased by one half if the abortion is performed to preserve the honour of that person’ spouse, daughter, or sister. However, the Penal Code explicitly allows an abortion to be performed to save the life of a woman. These restrictive laws lead women to seek clandestine abortions. It is estimated that approximately 26,000 illegal abortions are performed annually. Although the maternal mortality rate is declining, it is estimated that around 400 women die every year from unsafe abortion.
The World Economic Forum reports that 79 percent of married women use contraception. However, access to reproductive health services is a problem with a 2004 study finding that 19 percent of married women are in need of modern contraception, with a high proportion in rural areas.
 CEDAW (2004a) p.6  US Department of State (2010)  CLADEM Paraguay (2004) pp.35-36  United Nations General Assembly (2010)  US Department of State (2010)  CEDAW (2005b) para.4  Paraguayan Center of Population Studies (2004)  US Department of State (2010)  Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (n.d.)  US Department of State (2010)  CLADEM Paraguay (2004) pp.35-36  CLADEM Paraguay (2004) pp.35-36  CEDAW (2005b) para.8  CLADEM Paraguay (2004) pp.35-36  US Department of State (2010)  US Department of State (2010)  United Nations Population Division (2007)  United Nations Population Division (2007)  United Nations Population Division (2007)  CEDAW (2005c) para.28  World Economic Forum (2010) p.246  Paraguayan Center of Population Studies (2004)
Gender disaggregated data on rates of infant mortality and early childhood nutrition are not available for Paraguay. In 2005, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women raised concerns about girls performing domestic work without remuneration. A study on child labour in Paraguay found that although boys are more likely to be engaged in labour, paid or unpaid, girls who are in paid or unpaid work for longer hours. This suggests that girls experience greater time poverty than boys. With respect to access to education, the World Economic Forum reports that Paraguay has reached gender parity in primary, secondary and tertiary education enrolments which indicates that there is no preferential treatment of sons with respect to education.
The male/female sex ratio for the total population in 2012 is 1.01.
There is no evidence to suggest that Paraguay is a country of concern in relation to missing women.
Women’s access to land in Paraguay is guaranteed by article 2 the constitution which provides that the government must ‘promote women’s access to land ownership, guaranteeing ownership through access to title deeds’.  The Agrarian Act of 2002 protects the rights of women to own and manage land. However, it is reported that the law is not widely implemented. The number of women owning 10 hectares of land increased slightly between 2007 and 2009, from 33 percent to 34 percent.  Overall, CLADEM Paraguay, a women’s non-governmental organisation, reported in 2004 that women make up only 9 percent of land owners and own only 8 percent of the land surface.
Women and men have exactly the same rights in relation to access to property other than land. The Civil Code does not permit execution of contracts with third parties by either spouse without the acknowledgement and authorised signature of both spouses, however this applies equally to women and men.
The 2002 Agrarian Act aims to promote women’s access to bank loans. Based on data from the National Development Bank, the government reported in 2004, that women made up 22 percent of its borrowers. Women were likely to borrow less than men, with the average women’s loan being 33.8 million guaraníes, compared to 51.7 million guaraníes for men.
 Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (2010.) p.54  CEDAW (2005c) para.24  Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (2010.) p.54  CLADEM Paraguay (2004) p.32  CEDAW (2004a) p.23  CEDAW (2004a) p.23  CEDAW (2004b) p.8  CEDAW (2004b) p.44
Women in Paraguay generally have freedom of access to public space, including the right to jointly decide on the location of the family home under the Civil Code. However, as described in the Physical Integrity section, the threat of violence in Paraguay impinges upon women’s access to public space.
With respect to women’s participation in political life, the Electoral Code provides that at least 20 percent of each party’s candidates in their internal primaries be women. The World Economic Forum reports that women make up only 13 per cent of Paraguay’s parliamentarians and 22 percent of Ministerial positions. In 2009, one woman served on the Supreme Court and one as a departmental governor.
The National Constitution specifically prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of sex. Further, the Labour Code provide equal labour rights for women and men, including equal pay, maternity protection and the obligation to establish child care units.  Paraguay provides 9 week paid maternity leave, paid at 50 percent of wages by the social insurance system.
Paraguay achieved its independence from Spain in 1811. Despite a marked increase in political turmoil in recent years, Paraguay has held relatively free and regular presidential elections since then. The World Bank classifies Paraguay as a lower middle-income country.
Although Paraguay has introduced a number of significant reforms to promote gender equality, the status of women in Paraguay is undermined by high levels of poverty and discriminatory social norms and cultural practices. Women fare worse than men on key economic indicators including labour force participation, wage equality and income. Indigenous women in Paraguay are particularly marginalised with higher illiteracy rates, lower school enrolment rates, poor access to health care and significant levels of poverty.  Adequate access to reproductive health services is also a problem in Paraguay, where there is a high maternal mortality rate, particularly deaths due to illegal abortions. The high level of violence against women is also a critical factor stalling progress towards gender equality.
Articles 47 and 48 of the 1992 Constitution of Paraguay uphold the principle of equality for all individuals and prohibit discrimination. Paraguay ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1987.
 Central Intelligence Agency (2011)  World Bank (n.d.)  CEDAW (2005a); USAID (2005)  World Economic Forum (2010) p.246  CEDAW (2005a) p.7  CEDAW (2005a) p.6  CLADEM Paraguay (2004a) p.2
Central Intelligence Agency (2011) The World Factbook: Paraguay, available at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/pa.html, accessed 19 January 2011.
Central Intelligence Agency (2012) The World Factbook: Sex Ratio, available at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2018.html, accessed 29 February 2012.
CEDAW (2011) Shadow Report to CEDAW Paraguay 2011, available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/docs/ngos/Joint_NGO_submission_Paraguay_CEDAW50_en.pdf, accessed 19 March 2012
CLADEM Paraguay (2004) Shadow report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women: Paraguay, available at http://www.iwraw-ap.org/resources/paraguay%28English%29.pdf, accessed 19 January 2011.
Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (2010) What kind of State? What kind of equality?, available at http://www.eclac.org/publicaciones/xml/3/40123/What_kind_State_What_kind_equality.pdf, accessed 20 January 2011.
Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (n.d.) Paraguay, equality indicators, available at http://www.eclac.cl/oig/indicators/Paraguay/Paraguay.htm, accessed 20 January 2011.
OECD (2010) Wikigender: Adolescent Birth Rate, available at http://www.wikigender.org/index.php/Adolescent_Birth_Rate, accessed 20 January 2011.
Paraguayan Center of Population Studies (2004) Paraguay 2004 Reproductive Health Survey, Final Report English Language Executive Summary, available at http://www.cdc.gov/ReproductiveHealth/Surveys/Paraguay04.htm#Violence, accessed 20 January 2011.
Understanding Children’s Work (UCW) Project (2010)Trends in children’s employment and child labour in the Latin America and Caribbean region: Country report for Paraguay, available at http://www.ucw-project.org/pdf/publications/Paraguay_trends.pdf, accessed 20 January 2011.
United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (2004a) Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Paraguay, Combined Third and Fourth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/PAR/3-4, New York.
United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (2004b) Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Paraguay, Fifth Periodic Report of States Parties, CEDAW/C/PAR/5, New York.
United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (2005a) Concluding Observations: Paraguay, CEDAW/C/PAR/CC/3-5, New York.
United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (2005b) Summary record of the 672nd meeting, CEDAW/C/SR.672, New York.
United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (2005c) Summary record of the 671st meeting, CEDAW/C/SR.671, New York.
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2008) World Marriage Data 2008, available at http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/WMD2008/Main.html, accessed 10 October 2010.
United Nations Development Programme (2010) Human Development Report 2010 Paraguay, online edition, available at http://hdrstats.undp.org, accessed 11 January 2011.
United Nations Development Programme (2011) Human Development Report 2011, available at http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_2011_EN_Complete.pdf, accessed 29 February 2012.
United Nations General Assembly (2010) Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Summary prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in accordance with paragraph 15 (c) of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 5/1: Paraguay, A/HRC/WG.6/10/PRY/3, Geneva.
United Nations Population Division Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2002) Abortion Policies, available at http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/abortion/, accessed 13 January 2010.
US State Department (2010) 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Paraguay, available http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/wha/136122.htm, accessed 19 January 2011.
USAID (US Agency for International Development) (2005), Gender Assessment USAID/Paraguay, USAID, Washington, DC.
World Bank (2010) Women, Business and the Law: Paraguay, available at http://wbl.worldbank.org/ExploreEconomies/Paraguay, accessed 20 January 2011.
World Bank (n.d.) Online data: Paraguay, available at http://data.worldbank.org/country/paraguay, accessed at 11 January 2011.
World Economic Forum (2010) Global Gender Gap Report 2010, available at http://www.weforum.org/pdf/gendergap/report2010.pdf, accessed 20 October 2010.
World Economic Forum (2011) The Global Gender Gap Report 2011, available at http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GenderGap_Report_2011.pdf, accessed 2 March 2012.