Special Report

The Most Unfair Countries For Women

5. Mauritania
> Income gap: 28% (tied-12th lowest)
> Labor force participation (m/f): 80%/29%
> Literacy rate (m/f): 65%/52%
> Pct. women in parliament: 22%

Mauritania’s gender gap for health is actually among the best in the world. Healthy women are expected to live in normal health for three years longer on average than men. However, by measures of equality in education and economic participation, the West African nation is among the worst in the world. Just 29% of women are actively involved in the labor force, compared to 80% of men. Women also earned just 28% of what men earn on average, the worst wage gap of any country measured by the WEF. Another factor making matters worse for Mauritanian women is the well-documented persistence of slavery in the country. It has been reported that women are subject to forced marriages and sexual abuse.

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4. Syria
> Income gap: 15% (the worst)
> Labor force participation (m/f): 75%/14%
> Literacy rate (m/f): 90%/78%
> Pct. women in parliament: 12%

Syria has never known a female leader. However, two women — Suhair Atassi and Razan Zaitouneh — have been key leaders in the uprising against President Bashar Assad. According to USA Today, these Syrian women are poised to put Syria in the forefront of female representation in the Arab world. Atassi and Zaitouneh are exceptional in Syria, however, where only 14% of working-age women participated in the labor force, the lowest percentage of all the countries reviewed by the WEF. Three-quarters of working-age men, on the other hand, are engaged in the labor market. The ratio is one of the most imbalanced in the world.

3. Chad
> Income gap: 62% (58th best)
> Labor force participation (m/f): 80%/65%
> Literacy rate (m/f): 46%/25%
> Pct. women in parliament: 15%

When asked to read a simple written sentence about everyday life, only one-quarter of women in Chad could do so, compared with about half of men. Poor literacy among women may be due in part to low enrollment in school. While nearly three-quarters of eligible boys attended primary school, only just over half of eligible girls do. Most female students do not continue to secondary education, with only 5% appropriately-aged females enrolled, less than a third of the rate for males. Low life expectancy and the many health concerns in the country, however, do not discriminate. Both men and women can expect to live about the same healthy number of years. According to Amnesty International, Chadian authorities have “consistently failed to prevent and address sexual violence by both state and non-state agents.”

2. Pakistan 
> Income gap: 21% (4th worst)
> Labor force participation (m/f): 86%/23%
> Literacy rate (m/f): 69%/40%
> Pct. women in parliament: 20%

Only one other nation, Syria, received worse scores than Pakistan for inequality in economic opportunities between genders. Just 23% of women participate in the workforce, versus 86% of men, one of the widest disparities in the world. Just 3% of all individuals in managerial and leadership positions are women, worse than any nation except Yemen. The nation also received some of the worst marks for gender gaps in educational attainment. Just 40% of women can read, versus 69% of men, and just 65% of appropriately-aged girls are enrolled in primary school, versus 79% of boys the same age. Pakistan is one of just six nations in which a woman’s healthy life expectancy was shorter than a man’s. However, unlike the U.S., Pakistan has had a female head of state. Benazir Bhutto served as prime minister from 1988 to 1990, and from 1993 until 1996. She was assassinated in late 2007.

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1. Yemen
> Income gap: 27% (8th worst)
> Labor force participation (m/f): 74%/26%
> Literacy rate (m/f): 82%/49%
> Pct. women in parliament: 0%

Yemen is, according to the WEF, the worst country for gender equality. The country had the worst representation by women in managerial or leadership positions. Just one out of every 50 legislators, senior officials and managers was a woman, the worst ratio of any country measured. Yemen is one of the few countries that does not have a single woman in parliament. Women are often not considered legitimate witnesses in court without a male to back up their story, and they are not allowed to testify at all on many issues. Less than half of the country’s women can read, compared to 82% of men. The country also scores very poorly for education equality. Just 31% of women of the eligible age for secondary education were enrolled, compared to nearly half of all men.

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