The Women of G-20

by Translation Guy on June 25, 2012

No Playboy-style spread here, just the best and worst places for women in the world’s twenty largest economies, providing proof that when it comes to women’s rights, culture counts big time.

Trustlaw, a foundation for women’s rights, asked 370 gender experts from five continents a series of questions to rank the quality of life for women internationally. According to the report, “The experts surveyed included aid professionals, academics, health workers, policymakers, journalists and development specialists. All were chosen for their expertise in gender issues.”

Respondents were asked to rank the three best and three worst countries for women in seven different categories: workplace opportunities, access to education and legal rights, political participation, health, freedom from violence, freedom from slavery, and all of the above (?).

Canada takes first. Big surprise there, eh? They always finish first on anything enlightened and progressive, so they can sew those little maple leafs on their backpacks. It’s so damned irritating.

Germany, UK, France, Australia and the US follow in that order. Opinion on the United States was sharply divided, since some respondents viewed the US as a place “where many of the gains of the last 100 years are under attack and the most overt and vicious attack is on reproductive rights.”

Japan was ranked seventh, which surprised me, since women really do seem to get the short end of the chopsticks in that culture. I guess it’s because I know a lot of Japanese women expats, and have been listening to their cultural prison break stories for years.

But there are plenty of worse places for women. Sometimes the problems are driven by poverty, but culture and political repression often come into play.

Turkey, at number 12, ranks poorly as violence, child marriage and domestic slavery endure and political conservatism curtails women’s freedom.

In China, ranked fourteenth, abortion and infanticide make China particularly dangerous for women, proved by their demographic absence. China has one of the highest mail-to-female sex rations in the world.

Runner up for last place is Saudi Arabia, where women aren’t even allowed to drive, although since last year they now can vote.

Last place is India, where “women and girls continue to be sold as chattles, married off as young as 10, burned alive as a result of dowry-related disputes and young girls first exploited and abused as domestic slave labour.”

The horror is great, and deeply depressing. So instead, a small victory. Here’s a clip of a Saudi woman standing up to a mutaween, (المطوعين) a clerical cop who tried (and failed) to eject her from a Riyadh mall because he didn’t like the color of her nail polish.

See the report for the grim reality faced by many women in many countries.


  1. I can certainly understand the divided position on the US, it seems lately that issues that should have been laid to rest (ie reproductive rights, etc.) become dredged up every election cycle.

  2. Not shocked at all by the last two, shameful situations in both countries.

  3. Great article, good to know this blog cares about women.

  4. That youtube clip actually got mentioned in a piece by the Economist, it racked up a couple million views (mostly from inside the Middle East) in a few days after the woman in question posted it.

  5. Ivan Rados says:

    I’m suprised China is 14 and not lower, who is 15-18?

  6. Carolyn says:

    Pretty sure Italy only ranks so high becuse Berlusconi used to appoint his mistresses to cabinet positions, especially considering his position on how women should get ahead in life, “marry rich”

  7. I imagine Saudi will move up the list shortly after the death of King Abdullah, given the death of two fo his sucessors and the pressure to liberalize and the threat of revolution, Saudi is ripe from change.

    • Ken says:

      Maybe so.But will that make things better or worse? Are things getting better for women in Egypt?

  8. Randy Cooney says:

    Checked the link, good stuff, but one point I found contensious was the fact of Mexico. The infographic highlights 300 women killed in juarez with total impunity, well I think if you looked at the statistics that in that region controlled by drug cartels that an equal number of men or close to it were killed, people are killed quite a lot down there without any effective government deterrent.

  9. Dave says:

    Canada #1, like that as a Canadian but I have to admit that if you included countries outside the G20, they would drop quite a few stops.

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