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.