There was a regression of social services during the Touré years. Although government sought to establish extensive social programs, they were badly organized and managed and, in the end, the treasury was empty. In 1994, social security legislation was updated, providing pensions at age 55 and cash sickness benefits for employed persons. Maternity benefits were paid under the family allowance program and included 100% of earnings for up to 14 weeks. Agricultural workers and subsistence farmers are excluded from the program. Officially, free medical treatment is available, as well as free care for pregnant women and for infants. In reality, health service is poor, and life expectancy is among the lowest in the world.
Women traditionally play a subordinate role in family and public life. The law prohibits discrimination based on gender, but is not effectively enforced. Violence against women is common, but the courts rarely intervene in domestic disputes. Inheritance customs favor male children over female children. Women receive a far lower level of education on average than men. Female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice that is both painful and often life-threatening, continues to be practiced in all parts of the country. In 1997 the government launched a 20-year plan to eradicate FGM.
Human rights abuses include police abuse of prisoners, arbitrary detention, and torture. Some police officers have been arrested for the use of excessive force.