While the march towards gender equality slowly progresses around the world, one disturbing issue remains unresolved — safety for women. Even in the developed world, large segments of the female population do not feel safe going out in their own communities at night. A new survey released by Gallup shows that in countries like the United States, where 82% of men feel comfortable going out at night, just 62% of women do.
The least safe countries in the world for both sexes are, for the most part, war-torn areas in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa. In these countries, men and women generally feel the same about their safety — though women almost always feel less secure. This trend holds true for developing countries, but the gap between men and women begins to widen.
Based on the Gallup’s report, 24/7 Wall St. examined the 10 countries where the gap between how men and women feel about their safety is the widest. While in these countries the level of perceived safety is among the highest in the world, women still report feeling far less safe compared to what men report. 24/7 Wall St.’s independent analysis of the economic conditions in these countries shows that they are among the most developed in the world, both in terms of wealth and gender equality.
Most of the countries on our list have among the highest GDP per capita. Two of the countries, the U.S. and Australia, are among the 10 richest in the world on that basis. Education and literacy rates are among the highest in the world in these countries as well. And secondary school enrollment is in the top third for eight of the 10 of the countries on this list (one of the remaining two does not report data).
Gender equality is generally stronger in these countries as well. According to a separate Gallup survey, the reported gap between women with full-time positions and men with full-time positions is among the lowest in the world. Generally, there are almost always more men employed full-time than women. But in Finland, one of the countries on the list, 12% more women are employed full-time compared to men. According to the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index, which measures the relative opportunities for men and women in their culture, the countries on our list have some of the strongest gender equality in the world.
Gallup consultant Steve Crabtree, one of the study’s authors, suggested that the general prosperity of the nations on our list is likely the reason for the disparity between how safe men and women feel in these countries. “As countries develop and poverty declines, the economic rationale for committing an assault, which would be to steal someone’s money or property, becomes less prevalent,” he told 24/7 Wall St. But, he explained, sexual and other violent assaults against women are not based on financial incentives and therefore may still remain high.
Many of these countries appear to have real issues with violence against women. Reported rapes in these nations on a per capita basis are among the highest in the world. Three of the countries on our list, including the country with the highest disparity — New Zealand — have among the top 10 worst rates of reported rape per capita. Despite having among the strongest gender equality, it is clear that rape and other forms of violence against women — including domestic violence — are still an issue in these countries.
Not all of the countries with the largest gap between the perceived safety of men and women are developed economies with high income and otherwise strong gender equality. Two of the countries on our list, Algeria and Albania, are considered less developed countries. While these two still have above-average GDP per capita, they have lower income, worse scores on many of the measures of gender equality and lower levels of perceived safety among men than the other countries on our list. Nevertheless, violence against women in these countries is well-documented, and the gender gap in perceived safety is still high.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed Gallup’s report, “Women Feel Less Safe Than Men in Many Developed Countries.” The report looked at 143 countries to identify the 10 in which women feel less safe than men walking alone at night. We also reviewed Gallup’s “Wide Gender Divide in Employment in One-Fourth,” which identified the percentage of men and women in each country that are employed full-time. Both surveys were conducted in 2011 and published in July 2012. Using data provided by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), we also reviewed incidents of reported rape by country for 2009 or the most recent available year. In addition, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed literacy, percentage of the population living in urban areas and GDP data provided by the CIA World Factbook. We also included reference to levels of violence and perceived violence, as measured by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
These are the countries where women do not feel safe.