Special Report

The Worst Countries for Gender Equality

Steven Peters

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11. Oman

After its omission last year due to insufficient data, Oman has made it back into the Index this year. But its gender gap is larger than in 2016 because of widening disparity in economic participation and opportunity. About a third of women are employed, compared to almost 89% of men. Also, women earn about 80% less than men, one of the worst ratios of all 149 countries in the report.

Women face high legal barriers. Men can divorce them for any reason, while women can divorce only under specific circumstances; women cannot marry foreigners but men can; women can travel abroad but need a man’s permission to get a passport; and there is no law against domestic violence.

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12. Jordan

Despite significantly reducing the educational gender gap since 2006, Jordan continues to have one of the world’s lowest rates of women’s workforce participation — at only 15%. Many of the unemployed women are university graduates as more women than men obtain a college degree.

Jordan does not have an equal opportunity law prohibiting gender discrimination in the workplace, and gender-based discrimination is not banned in the Constitution. Paid maternity leave and daycare for working mothers are avoided by businesses that simply use gender-specific provisions as reasons not to hire women, according to the Freedom House, a U.S.-based non-governmental organization.

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13. Morocco

Despite changes made to protect women, such as criminalizing harassment of women, removing the requirement of having a male guardian, and recognizing violence against women as gender-based discrimination, Morocco still has a very wide gap in economic opportunities, especially the share of women working. This has brought down its overall score. Less than 27% of women participate in the labor market, compared to 79% of men — the 10th worst ratio among all 149 countries includes in the Global Index.

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14. Mauritania

Mauritania, where bonded labor still persists despite being outlawed in 1981, has seen a decline in wage equality and a widening gender gap in political empowerment, especially in women’s representation in parliament.

And while technically the Constitution forbids discrimination, there is no exact definition of the word, making the law hardly enforceable. There is no law mandating equal pay and no legislation making domestic violence a crime.

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15. Egypt

Egypt still faces problems with constraints to women’s participation in the labor force, as well as sexual harassment and gender-based violence. Only 24% of women work, compared to almost 78% of men.

Gender discrimination in Egypt is also prevalent in politics and education. Just 75% of women are literate, compared to almost 87% of men.