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Safest Places for Women to Live and Work

By Rich_Maloof Aug 7, 2012 4:36PM

Photo: Michael Coyne/Getty ImagesEach year, the G20 conference gathers countries of advanced and emerging economies to confer on international relations and trends in global finance. As evidenced by the now-routine protests and demonstrations surrounding each meeting, the global economy has far-reaching impact on the well-being of people around the world.

Before this year’s conference in Mexico, TrustLaw conducted a poll of 370 experts in gender and development to rank how good each of the 19 member countries is for women. TrustLaw, “a global hub for free legal assistance and news and information on good governance and women’s rights,” used the following criteria in their ranking:

1. Quality of health
2. Freedom from violence
3. Political participation
4. Workplace opportunities
5. Access to resources (i.e. education, property rights)
6. Freedom from trafficking and slavery

The results have been shared in a set of infographics laced with facts and stats that are alternately eye-popping and heart-breaking. Even the top-rated countries have plenty of room for progress. With the US ranking only No. 6 in the poll, the results reflect how far even a uniquely wealthy Western nation needs to come in improving the quality of women’s lives.

A few observations shared by TrustLaw:

Australia ranks high at No. 4, yet 1 in 3 women there will experience physical violence in their lifetime. Nearly 1 in 5 (19.1 percent) have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15.

India is the worst G20 country for women. Said a representative of Save The Children UK, “In India, women and girls continue to be sold as chattels, married off as young as 10, burned alive as a result of dowry-related disputes, and young girls exploited and abused as domestic slave labour.”

China (No. 14) has extraordinary levels of gender discrimination and is darkly marked by “son preference.” According to statistics provided by the World Bank, 1.09 million girls were dead or “missing” at birth due to infanticide in 2008.

Russia (No. 13) continues to have a widespread problem with prostitution domestically, and 57,750 women are trafficked from the country every year. In Brazil (No. 11), a quarter million children are estimated to be involved in prostitution.

Germany (No. 2) has a female head of state, and the life expectancy there for women is 83 years.

Saudi Arabia, at No. 18, is a wealthy kingdom but is heavily influenced by an ultra-conservative form of Islam requiring women to submit to men in nearly every aspect of their lives. Only last year were Saudi women given the right to vote. There is no law against domestic violence to women.

The United States ranked at No. 6, with due credit for civil rights, protecting victims of domestic violence, and workplace opportunities. But debates over reproductive rights — with 92 anti-abortion provisions enacted at state level in 2011 — and lack of affordable healthcare stranding nearly 23 million uninsured left the US trailing five other nations.

Canada provides access to healthcare and places a premium on education, which are critical components in earning our northern neighbor the poll’s No. 1 ranking.

Photo: Michael Coyne/Getty Images

Aug 7, 2012 9:52PM
Just was able to come back to the site, sorry, I am still trying to learn to give responses on these discussions. My original response (regarding a woman's right to abort and the ensuing questions) was regarding Texas Roberts response. I still stand by it.
Thank you, V.O.R. your organization is amazing, many blessings and continued success.
I meant no harm. We all have varying opinions, despite our religious beliefs, our political beliefs, heck was our belief in the outcome of humanity period.
To Texas Roberts, the various women that I have know that have had to do this live with their decision every day, no matter the reason. As a Christian, I have always known that that is really, hell enough.

Aug 7, 2012 9:49PM
Sugarbear you need to take a chill pill.  Or better why not move North to Canada.  This country has a lot of problems, but I've lived all over the world and if you think you have it bad, you haven't the foggest idea what bad is.  Why do you think we have an illegal problem, if it was so much better elsewhere they wouldn't be risking their lives to get here.
Aug 7, 2012 9:39PM
Just so you know,I'm not your personal property.That's why we don't rank higher.Half of the US thinks women are property.IN that aspect,you're all no different than Saudi Arabia.I'm a minority and a nurse.Understand that.Educated,know all about abortion,birth control,etc.Until women are treated with the respect they deserve here,instead of being treated like incubators for unwanted fetuses,we're going to stay behind!I am fed up with these religious freaks thinking they have some RIGHT to impose their belief system on the rest of us.I,as well as the rest of the women here in the US,am capable of making my own decisions about myself and my body.So,screw off and leave us to our own decisions about personal issues.I know women who have had abortions,women who have been adopted,women who have had children they don't want.I've seen it all.They all deserve respect.
Aug 7, 2012 9:17PM
So the US isn't the best because we are against open genocide on the unborn? Then I gladly accept 6th place. And access to healthcare? If you have a job, it comes with healthcare...if it doesn't, find a new job. If you don't have healthcare in the United States, it's because you're not working for it. Nothing in life is free.
Aug 7, 2012 9:11PM

Canada is a perfect example of a balanced approach to government, business, and social well-being. The right businesses are socialized and made non-profit, so that "profit" isnt a factor in decision making. Healthcare, certain insurance, and basic utilities being the most note worthy. Laws and programs also vary from Province to Province. Just like they do, from State to State in the U.S..

Canada puts a lot of emphasis on its social safety net, and the results are obvious and telling. And it hasnt broken the bank. Canada is one of the most stable economies in the world.

Aug 7, 2012 9:01PM
I ,respectfully, think you are mistaken. I am a Christian, and a woman, and I still believe fundamentally in our right to choice. It is between God and ourselves the outcome of those decisions. If our country has no understanding, especially where religion is concerned, with teaching correct birth control ( yes abstinence is great, if it is CHOSEN, not forced) without the stigma attached to young women then we have no choice but to accept the outcome. One life equals one life, living or entering in, understood. However, if a woman has a life growing in her forced, or unintended whichever, are YOU going to be the one to stand up and tell her that you will finance her decision to allow it to come into this increasingly dispassionate world?
Bring one of these young ladies into your house, tend for her, give her health care, shelter, food and a safe haven, then write those words again.
Understand, these are the dark ages for all the supposed light that is shed every day with our freedom to comment as such.

Aug 7, 2012 8:56PM

Are people really that surprised that the US is not at the top?



After my travels, I'm quite shocked that the US didn't rank lower than #6.

Aug 7, 2012 8:54PM
I noticed that France was #4 on the list in part because women were underrepresented in the workforce. Which begs the question, do women in France WANT to work? If the economy in France is such that the average woman doesn't have to work if she *chooses* not to, how can that be considered a negative? I can see if women are being discriminated against in the workplace, or have a harder time finding employment, or have fewer educational opportunities that allow them to get jobs then yes, it is definitely a negative. But if they simply have the luxury (and it is a luxury these days) to decide they would rather their job be tending to a home, keeping a garden, raising children, painting, sculpting, or whatever they are able to do because they don't *have* to work to support their families, I don't see why that's bad. I work because I have had to work. I'm having a baby in November, at which point I may not want to work anymore, at least until the kid's in school. Unfortunately, I don't have that choice - my job provides more affordable health insurance by far than my husband's job. But if I had the choice I would not necessarily go back to the 9 to 5 grind. Simply saying that women are "underrepresented" in the French workforce doesn't say anything about WHY that is. In France they may very well consider it a positive.
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