Special Report

The 10 Worst Countries for Women

4. Syria
> Female-to-male income ratio: N/A
> Labor force participation (m/f): 76% / 14%
> Literacy rate (m/f): 91% / 79%
> Pct. women in parliament: 12%

Syria had some of the worst gender gaps for economic participation. Just 14% of women in the country were in the labor force, versus 76% of men. Further, the country also ranked poorly for women’s political empowerment. Just 12% of parliamentary positions and 9% of all ministerial positions were held by women. Syria ranked as one of the worst countries for women despite a far higher healthy life expectancy for women. While women were expected to live 65 years in good health, men were expected to live only 55 years in good health. One reason behind this disparity is likely the ongoing conflict in Syria, which remains extremely violent and unresolved. Recently, the United States began launching airstrikes in Syria as part of its plans to combat the terrorist group ISIL.

3. Chad
> Female-to-male income ratio: 0.62 (52nd best)
> Labor force participation (m/f): 79% / 65%
> Literacy rate (m/f): 47% / 28%
> Pct. women in parliament: 15%

Chad is one of the lowest-rated countries on the United Nation’s Human Development Index. It has suffered from chronic regional instability, including spillover from conflicts in Darfur and in Central African Republic. Unlike most nations on this list, disparities in work opportunities and incomes are not especially large in Chad. However, this could be due in large part to the population’s heavy reliance on subsistence agriculture. Chad ranked as the worst country in the world for gender-driven disparities in educational attainment. Just 28% of women in the country could read and only 55% of school-age girls were enrolled in primary school, both among the worst rates in the world.

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2. Pakistan
> Female-to-male income ratio: 0.18 (tied-3rd worst)
> Labor force participation (m/f): 86% / 25%
> Literacy rate (m/f): 67% / 42%
> Pct. women in parliament: 21%

Pakistan is among the nations with the widest disparities between women and men in economic participation and opportunity. For example, just one-quarter of Pakistani women were in the labor force, versus 86% of men. Similarly, the disparity in educational attainment is also quite large. Just 67% of school-aged girls in Pakistan attended primary school, a figure that falls to just 31% for secondary school. By contrast, enrollment rates for boys were 77% and 41%, respectively. Even worse was the gap in literacy rate between females and males — just 42% of women could read versus 67% of men.

1. Yemen
> Female-to-male income ratio: 0.28 (tied-8th worst)
> Labor force participation (m/f): 74% / 26%
> Literacy rate (m/f): 83% / 50%
> Pct. women in parliament: 0%

Yemen is the world’s worst country for women in 2014, according to the WEF. In addition to being one of the worst countries in women’s economic participation and opportunity, Yemen received some of the world’s worst scores in relative educational attainment and political participation for females. Just half of women in the country could read, versus 83% of men. Further, women accounted for just 9% of ministerial positions and for none of the positions in parliament. Child marriage is a huge problem in Yemen. According to Human Rights Watch, as of 2006, 52% of Yemeni girls were married before they reached 18, and 14% were married before they reached 15 years of age.


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