Special Report

The 10 Worst Countries for Women

7. Cote d’Ivoire
> Female-to-male income ratio: 0.49 (38th worst)
> Labor force participation (m/f): 82% / 53%
> Literacy rate (m/f): 52% / 30%
> Pct. women in parliament: 9%

The gap in educational attainment between men and women is especially problematic in Cote d’Ivoire. Although the 52% literacy rate among men in the country was quite low, women’s literacy rate was even lower, at only 30%. Enrollment of women at every level of school is also very low. Just 56% of primary school-aged girls were enrolled in school, among the lowest rates in the world. By secondary school, the enrollment rate dropped to 14%. Limited access to schooling, for both genders, also contributed to Cote d’Ivoire’s low score on the Human Development Index, where it ranked in the lowest decile of all countries. According to UNICEF, “The low education rate is essentially due to the insufficient educational offer[ings]: not enough teachers and school buildings.” The organization added, “Children who go to school do not always benefit from quality teaching” in Cote d’Ivoire.

ALSO READ: Jobs With the Widest Gap Between Men and Women

6. Iran
> Female-to-male income ratio: 0.17 (the worst)
> Labor force participation (m/f): 76% / 17%
> Literacy rate (m/f): 89% / 79%
> Pct. women in parliament: 3%

Iran has some of the world’s greatest disparities in labor force participation and incomes. Just 17% of women were in the labor force, versus 76% of men. And women earned an average of just $4,656 annually, versus $26,644 for men. According to a Reuters story published in May, an edict, issued by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to increase the country’s population has concerned many reformers already worried about women’s limited role in the workforce. Further, few nations rank worse for women’s participation in politics. In fact, Iran disqualified all female candidates in the last presidential election. According to Human Rights Watch, women need a male guardian’s approval to marry, and travel internationally.

5. Mali
> Female-to-male income ratio: 0.41 (23rd worst)
> Labor force participation (m/f): 82% / 52%
> Literacy rate (m/f): 43% / 25%
> Pct. women in parliament: 10%

Mali has some of the worst disparities between men and women in both educational attainment and health. Among the reasons for this are the low literacy rate for women of just 25% and the low primary school enrollment rate of 64%, both among the worst worldwide. Also, women had a healthy life expectancy of just 48 years — among the lowest in the world. Mali was one of just three nations where the healthy life expectancy of women was lower than that of men. In 2012, religious extremists briefly seized a large portion of northern Mali before being pushed back by a French-led intervention. In the time these groups occupied the country they were accused of numerous human rights atrocities against women.

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