Last week, the result of a study which examined the best and worst places for women amongst the G20 countries, was released. Some of the results of the study, I found to be rather surprising. The countries were assessed in six categories which included, domestic violence laws, access to education and health care, professional opportunities, women’s’ rights and political participation. Experts from a wide cross-section of the global society were involved; for instance, representatives from United Nations Women, International Rescue Committee, Plan International, Amnesty USA, Oxfam International and various academic organizations were part of the examination process. The list reveals the range of global development levels, but some interesting anomalies bring to light other issues that are relevant determinants of social problems.
Canada bagged the first spot followed by Germany and the United Kingdom in the second and third spot, respectively. Germany’s has a female head of state, as well as the average life expectancy of women in the country is approximately 83 years. Access to health care, progressive laws and occupational opportunities are the main factors contributing to Canada’s position. Australia ranked fourth; however, I was surprised to find out that gender related gaps in salary are prevalent in a developed nation such as Australia. And in France which took the fifth spot, women were underrepresented in the full time labour force. The United States, while being the leading modern economy that revels in being the face of contemporary society, still faces regressive debates on contraception which compromise women’s rights. Approximately, 23 million women in the USA do not have health insurance.
What saddened me the most was to find India in the nineteenth position, making it one of the worst places for women in the world. As I have ties to that country, I wouldn’t say I was surprised. There is still stark disparity been urban and rural areas. According to the Center for Research on Women, 45% girls are married before they turn 18 years old and the United Nations Populations Fund revealed that in 2010, there were over 56,000 maternal deaths in the country. I can tell from firsthand experience that while women’s rights in the metropolis have progressed, the harsh reality is evidenced by the statistics. Education and women empowerment is a key factor in the progress of development. This study emphasises the existent problem of gender disparity, the recognition that there is still a long way to go for women’s rights in a society where patriarchal traditions and culture is still pervasive.