Policies that promote gender equality, safeguards against violence and exploitation and access to healthcare make Canada the best place to be a woman among the world’s biggest economies, a global poll of experts showed yesterday.
Infanticide, child marriage and slavery make India the worst, the same poll concluded. Germany, Britain, Australia and France rounded out the top five countries out of the Group of 20 in a perceptions poll of 370 gender specialists conducted by TrustLaw, a legal news service.
At the other end of the scale, Saudi Arabia — where women are well educated but are banned from driving and only won the right to vote in 2011 —polled second-worst after India, followed by Indonesia, South Africa and Mexico.
“India is incredibly poor, Saudi Arabia is very rich. But there is a commonality and that is that unless you have some special access to privilege, you have a very different future, depending on whether you have an extra X chromosome, or a Y chromosome,” said Nicholas Kristof, journalist and co-author of “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide”, commenting on the poll results.
The poll, released ahead of a summit of G20 heads of state to be held in Mexico on June 18-19, showed the reality for many women in many countries remains grim despite the introduction of laws and treaties on women’s rights, experts said.
“In India, women and girls continue to be sold as chattels, married off as young as 10, burned alive as a result of dowry-related disputes and young girls exploited and abused as domestic slave labour,” said Gulshun Rehman, health programme development adviser at Save the Children, UK, who was one of those polled.
“This is despite a groundbreaking progressive Domestic Violence Act enacted in 2005 outlawing all forms of violence against women and girls,” he added.
Respondents came from 63 countries on five continents and included experts from United Nations Women, the International Rescue Committee, Plan International, Amnesty USA and Oxfam International, as well as prominent academic institutions and campaigning organisations. Representatives of faith-based organisations were also surveyed.
How they rank
1. Canada (the best place to be a woman among the world’s biggest economies)
2. Germany 3. Britain
4. Australia 5. France
6. United States of America
7. Japan 8. Italy 9. Argentina
10. South Korea 11. Brazil
12. Turkey 13. Russia
14. China 15. Mexico
16. South Africa
17. Indonesia 18. Saudi Arabia 19. India