10. Saudi Arabia
> Income gap: 19% (3rd worst)
> Labor force participation (m/f): 76%/18%
> Literacy rate (m/f): 91%/82%
> Pct. women in parliament: 20%
Only 18% of working age Saudi women are part of the workforce, less than only four other countries. Saudi women earn an estimated $7,156 annually, while Saudi men made around $37,661 on average — one of the widest gaps globally. Saudi Arabia is also the only country where women are not allowed to drive. This past Saturday, activists called upon Saudi women to violate the ban. The rule is one of many separating women from men in the country: “Guardianship laws” include prohibitions on women from marrying, working, or travelling abroad without male permission.
> Income gap: 41% (20th worst)
> Labor force participation (m/f): 71%/38%
> Literacy rate (m/f): 43%/25%
> Pct. women in parliament: 10%
Low educational attainment is a major contributor to gender inequality in Mali, with only four countries receiving worse marks from the WEF. Women were far less likely than men to be literate. Just 25% of the women aged 15 and over surveyed were able to read and write a simple sentence about their lives, among the lowest rates in the world. Although educational attainment is poor among both genders, Malian girls and women are less likely than their male counterparts to be enrolled at each level of education. This disparity worsens at higher levels of education. In addition to a wide gender imbalance, the country has recently had to deal with considerable internal unrest. Last year, Islamic extremists took advantage of the instability that followed a coup in Mali’s capital, Bamako, and seized power in northern Mali. This lead to a brief war, during which France and bordering nations helped secure Mali against rebel forces.
> Income gap: 28% (tied-12th worst)
> Labor force participation (m/f): 78%/26%
> Literacy rate (m/f): 76%/58%
> Pct. women in parliament: 17%
Only about one in four working age women in Morocco were part of the labor force, one of the lowest proportions of all the countries reviewed by the WEF. This trend mirrors the social expectation in Morocco that women stay at home and go out only seldomly. Women in Morocco are also among the least likely to be literate, with only just over half of the female population aged 15 and over statement about their lives. Despite the gender-based disparities in educational attainment in the country — Morocco scored worse than over 100 other countries in this category — there is still evidence of a female voice in the country. An exhibition currently at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston features work by female photographers from Morocco and several Arab countries.
> Income gap: 21% (tied-4th worst)
> Labor force participation (m/f): 75%/17%
> Literacy rate (m/f): 89%/81%
> Pct. women in parliament: 3%
Iran received some of the lowest scores in the world for its gender disparities in economic participation. While 75% of working age men were in the labor force, just 17% of working age women participate, lower than all but three other nations. Estimated earned incomes differ considerably between both genders, as well, with men earning nearly five times what women do. Politically, the nation is male dominated: Just 3% of members of parliament are women, and men outnumber women in ministerial positions ten to one. A recent report from a U.N. representative noted 30 female presidential candidates were all ruled ineligible for the country’s presidential election due to their gender.
6. Ivory Coast
> Income gap: 48% (35th worst)
> Labor force participation (m/f): 82%/52%
> Literacy rate (m/f): 66%/48%
> Pct. women in parliament: 10%
Eleven percent of appropriately aged men were enrolled in some form of tertiary education in the Ivory Coast, compared to just 6% of women. The state of health in the Ivory Coast was poor, but residents, whether they are male or female, had similar healthy life expectancies. The overall gap between men and women in the country is wide, but women are not completely helpless in the country. Laurent Gbagbo, the former president responsible for the country’s recent civil war, is said to have shared power with his wife, Simone. She is regarded by the international community as equally responsible for the violence following her husband’s loss of the presidency in 2010. Recently, however, the Ivorian government rejected an arrest warrant for the former first lady the first issued for a woman by the International Criminal Court.