Sunday, 24 March 2013

Gender inequality

By San Jose (map), Hayden120 (retouch),
 via Wikimedia Commons
I consider myself privileged to be a woman living in the UK. I had always considered myself one of the lucky ones, that having been born female I had the good fortune to live in a place where that wasn't too much of a problem.

33 better places to live

Today I discovered that actually there are 33 better places for women in the world, including all of our nearest neighbours.*

This is because the UK has been ranked 34th in the Gender Inequality Index, part of an annual development report published by the UN Development Programme.

This assesses countries based on three areas - reproductive health, empowerment (parliamentary representation and educational attainment) and the job market, to find out how equally or inequally women and men are treated in different countries. The report rates 148 countries (data isn't available in all countries of the world).

As you'd expect, developed countries come out at the top of the index, and the poorest come out at the bottom. Australia and Canada come in at spots 17 and 18. The US bombs in at 42.

Holding their heads up high

These are the countries with the most gender equality, according to the Gender Inequality Index:

Silvio Berlusconi, by Ricardo Stuckert/PR
(Agência Brasil), via Wikimedia Commons
1. The Netherlands
2. Sweden
3. and 4. (joint) Denmark and Switzerland
5. Norway
6. and 7. (joint) Finland and Germany
8. Slovenia
9. France
10. Iceland
11. Italy
12. Belgium

I was just going to give you the top ten, but then I noticed that Italy was ahead of the UK, and felt compelled to include this information. It means that the country that elected Bunga Bunga Berlusconi to be its Prime Minister, is ahead of us in terms of gender equality. That is pretty galling. 

Doing the walk of shame

These are the bottom 12 countries - those which ranked as having the least gender equality. There are few surprises - some of these are the worlds poorest countries, whilst others (spots 145 and 148) have notoriously bad human rights records. These are the places you don't want to go to be a woman.

136. Zambia
137. Cameroon
138. Côte d'Ivoire
139. and 140. (joint) Mauritania and Sierra Leone
141. Mali
142. Central African Republic
143. Liberia
144. Democratic Republic of the Congo
145. Saudi Arabia
146. Niger
147. Afghanistan
148. Yemen

What does it all mean?

I idly speculate that the UK does so spectacularly badly because we have relatively low representation of women in parliament, bringing us down in the 'empowerment' ranking, and our job market is still relatively unequal, partly due to the high costs of childcare, something which the countries above us have all pretty well sewn up, allowing women to go forth and be useful and productive members of society.

The fact that we come 34th doesn't mean that the UK is a bad place to live. But it does highlight that, as a relatively rich company, and a nation that considers ourselves to be progressive, we are lagging behind our nearest neighbours when it comes to equality between genders. It's time to try and keep up with the Johanneses.

*Except Ireland, which seems to be strangely absent from the report.

1 comment:

  1. hmmm, if the result of gender equality is Berlusconi, maybe we should be careful what we wish for