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FACTBOX-The worst and best G20 countries for women

by Katherine Baldwin | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 13 June 2012 01:01 GMT

Key facts, figures and comments from experts

LONDON (TrustLaw) - Strong policies against violence and exploitation combined with good access to education and healthcare make Canada the best G20 country to be a woman, while infanticide, child marriage and slavery make India the worst, a global poll of experts showed on Wednesday.

Germany, Britain, Australia and France rounded out the top five of the 19 richest nations that make up the Group of 20 along with the European Union in a perceptions poll of 370 gender specialists conducted by TrustLaw, a legal news service run by Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The United States came in sixth but polarised opinion due to issues surrounding reproductive rights and affordable healthcare. At the other end of the scale, Saudi Arabia –- where women are well educated but are banned from driving and only won the right to vote in 2011 -– polled second-worst after India, followed by Indonesia, South Africa and Mexico.



Here is the full ranking, from worst to best, with comments from experts and key facts on gender issues.


“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. This is despite a groundbreakingly progressive Domestic Violence Act enacted in 2005 outlawing all forms of violence against women and girls.”

- Gulshun Rehman, health programme development adviser, Save the Children UK

Key facts:

*44.5% of girls are married before age of 18 – International Center for Research on Women (2010)

*56,000 maternal deaths were recorded in 2010 – UN Population Fund

*52% of women think it’s justifiable for a man to beat his wife – UNICEF (2012)


“Legally as well as socially, women are second-class citizens. Women aren’t allowed to drive, which is a symbol of larger restrictions on women’s mobility, there is no law against domestic violence and a man’s testimony in court is worth the testimony of two women.”

- Lyric Thompson, advocate with Amnesty USA and International Center for Research on Women

Key facts:

*2011: the year Saudi women were given the right to vote

*0: the number of women allowed to drive

*64.6% of women with tertiary education are unemployed – World Bank (2007)


“Women suffer sexual violence each day, according to the National Commission on Violence against Women, with rape being the most frequent form of violence. Other forms include sexual trafficking, sexual harassment, torture and sexual exploitation.”

- Sunila Singh, independent gender expert

Key facts:

*90% of women claim to have suffered sexual harassment in the workplace – OECD Development Centre (2004)

*1 woman dies every hour in childbirth – UN Population Fund

*Women’s share of earned income is 38% – World Bank


“Despite improvements for women in terms of laws and political participation since the end of apartheid, South Africa has some of the highest rates of sexual and gender-based violence in the world – it’s a horrendous epidemic that contributes to the spread of HIV/AIDS."

- Kathy Selvaggio, gender adviser, USAID Africa Bureau

Key facts:

*42.3% of seats in the lower house of parliament are held by women – Inter-Parliamentary Union (2012)

*66,196 sexual offences were reported in 2010-2011 - South African Police Service

*2 times as many women live with HIV than men - Avert (2011)


“Mexico invented the term 'machismo' and amongst the poorest rural and indigenous populations, a woman’s role is to stay at home. Some communities are worse than the most marginalised societies in Africa and Asia in public health and other inequalities. Rates of violence against women are extremely high - domestic, sexual and drug-related violence.”

- Blanca Rico, executive director, Semillas, Sociedad Mexicana Pro Derechos de la Mujer

Key facts:

*1/4 of women suffer sexual abuse by their partner – Amnesty International (2008)

*300 women were killed in Ciudad Juarez in 2011 with almost total impunity – Amnesty USA

*26.2% of seats in the lower house of parliament are held by women – Inter-Parliamentary Union (2012)


“China has one of the highest male-to-female sex ratios at birth (SRB). This unequal SRB has resulted in millions of ‘missing girls and women’ and extraordinary levels of gender discrimination. Son preference also has serious negative consequences on the economic and social development and stability of a country.”

- Alana Livesey, Plan International, Because I am a Girl Campaign

Key facts:

*1/4 of women think it’s justifiable for a man to beat his wife – UN Progress of the World’s Women Report (2011-2012)

*21.3% of seats in lower house of parliament are held by women – Inter-Parliamentary Union (2012)

*1.09 million girls dead or "missing" at birth due to infanticide in 2008 - World Bank


“Domestic and gender-based violence are widespread in Russia but we don’t have a domestic violence law so victims see no justice here. Prostitution has no legal status – it’s neither legal nor illegal and sex workers are often abused by police. Trafficking is also a big issue.”

- Daria Ukhova, feminist activist

Key facts:

*14,000 women die annually from domestic violence – UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (2010)

*Up to 57,750 women trafficked from Russia every year – UN Development Programme (2006)

*13.6% of seats in the lower house of parliament are held by women - Inter-Parliamentary Union (2012)


“Women and girls continue to be killed in the name of honour or chastity, forced into early marriage or domestic slavery and subjected to all forms of violence. Women are severely under-represented in the workforce and decision-making bodies, while conservatism is becoming mainstream in politics, curtailing women’s freedom and reinforcing traditional gender roles.”

- Selen Lermioglu Yilmaz, board member, Women for Women's Human Rights - New Ways Association

Key facts:

*74% of women of working age are unemployed – OECD (2010)

*3.8 million Turkish women are illiterate – Human Rights Watch (2010)

*26% of brides in 2012 were aged 16-19 – Turkish Statistical Institute


“Brazil is still marked by soaring social and economic inequalities directly related to unequal access to opportunities and gender-related discrimination. Women are disproportionately affected by extreme poverty, flaws in the health system and violence, with indigenous, rural and Afro-descendant women suffering the most.”

- Daniela Pinto, coordinator of Institutional Development Unit, UN Women, Brazil

Key facts:

*250,000 children are estimated to be involved in prostitution – U.S. State Department (2011)

*8.6% of seats in parliament’s lower house held by women – Inter-Parliamentary Union (2012)

*Women receive 120 days of maternity leave on full pay – UN Statistics Division (2011)


"The strict patriarchal and hierarchical system means sexual harassment largely goes unreported. There is also a huge gender wage gap and an unbreakable glass ceiling spanning both public and private sectors, while insufficient maternity leave and childcare mean the lives of working mothers are complicated and demanding.”

- Christal Phillips, visiting professor, Yonsei University

Key facts:

*6/10 people said men have more right to work when jobs are scarce – Pew Global Attitudes Survey (2010)

*38.9% is the gender pay gap for full-time workers – OECD (2009)

*4/1000 babies were born to teenage mothers in 2010 – World Bank


“The world’s image of Buenos Aires doesn’t reflect the reality of the most marginalised communities within the city and the provinces, where the biggest problems are women’s health, maternal mortality, sexual and reproductive education, access to legal abortion and contraception, job security and violence against women.”

- Natalia Gherardi, executive director, Equipo Latinoamericano de Justicia y Genero

Key facts:

*37.4% of seats in the lower house of parliament are held by women – Inter-Parliamentary Union (2012)

*Women receive 90 days of maternity leave on full pay – UN Statistics Division

*Up to 500,000 clandestine abortions approximately per year – OECD Development Centre


“Despite enormous progress in the last forty years, women still face discrimination in the labour market - higher unemployment, lower salaries than men and poor access to managerial positions. Women also suffer gender-based violence and there has been a rise in femicide.”

- Daniela Colombo, director AIDOS

Key facts:

*1.2 million women have been sexually harassed at work – National Institute for Statistics (2008-2009)

*3 times more hours spent by women on housework than men – OECD (2011)

*57.7% of students enrolled in tertiary education are female – World Bank (2009)


“Japanese women are struggling against an ingrained patriarchal culture. Many are taught that their contribution to the employment sector ends when they marry or have children, and they are under-represented at the political level. However, Japan has a healthy and vocal women’s movement working to change these issues and others.”

- Dr. Mara Patessio, lecturer in Japanese studies, University of Manchester

Key facts:

*11% of seats in parliament’s lower house are held by women – Inter-Parliamentary Union (2012)

*28.3% is the gender pay gap for full-time workers – OECD (2009)

*Female life expectancy at birth is 87 years – UN Statistics Division (2011)


"Our civil rights and domestic violence laws, a growing acceptance of women in the workplace, our fundamental freedom of movement and speech and the narrowing wage gap mean the US fares pretty well on women’s rights. However, many of the gains of the last 100 years are under attack and the most overt and vicious attack is on reproductive rights. Women also suffer disproportionately from the lack of affordable healthcare.”

- Marsha Freeman, director, International Women's Rights Action Watch

Key facts:

*60% of master’s degrees earned by women in 2008-2009 – US Department of Education

*92 anti-abortion restrictions enacted at state level in 2011 – Guttmacher Institute

*22.9 million women do not have health insurance – US Census (2012)


“Women are still under-represented in the labour market, despite favourable living conditions - they make up 30 percent of the part-time workforce versus 5 percent of men. However, it’s good to be a woman in France because women have a voice, despite machismo and traditional and cultural preconceptions.”

- Nadège Chell, president, RESO-Femmes

Key facts:

*22% of board members of largest publicly traded companies are female – European Commission (2011)

*New mothers receive 16 weeks of maternity leave on full pay – UN Statistics Division (2011)

*16.5% is the gender pay gap for full-time workers – OECD (2009)


“Significant progress has been made, particularly around laws and policies on equal rights, but those laws aren't reflected on the ground. We still have high rates of violence against women – 1 in 3 women will experience physical violence and 1 in 5 will experience sexual assault – and a huge gender pay gap continues to exist that hasn’t really changed in 20 years.”

-       Julie McKay, Executive Director of the Australian National Committee for UN Women

Key facts:

*There are 5 female CEOS among the top 200 companies – Australia Census of Women in Leadership (2010)

*19.1% of women experienced sexual violence since the age of 15 – Australian Government Office for Women (2010)

*35.9% parliamentary seats across both houses were held by women – Australian Parliamentary Library (2010)


“While most women in the UK benefit from access to free healthcare and have opportunities in business and politics, government spending cuts have impacted disproportionately on women while violence against women remains a serious problem, giving the lie to the belief that equality has been achieved within our borders.”

- Vivienne Hayes, chief executive, Women’s Resource Centre

Key facts:

*22.3% of judges are female – House of Lords Constitution Committee (2011)

*17% of ministerial positions held by women – Hansard Society (2012)

*18.6% is the gender pay gap – Office for National Statistics (2011)


“We have a female head of state, which shows women have opportunities to advance in the public sphere. But only 12.5 percent of board members of publicly listed companies are women. Meanwhile, a new law to take effect from 2013 giving every child under three the right to go to kindergarten isn’t viable due to a lack of places - this will have a disproportionate effect on women's ability to work.”

- Ingrid Lebherz, CEO, AWO International

Key facts:

*Female life expectancy is 83 years - UN Statistics Division (2010-2015)

*21.6% is the gender pay gap for full-time workers – OECD (2009)

*24.4% of convicted sex trafficking offenders received jail time in 2009 – US State Department


“While we have much more to do, women have access to healthcare, we place a premium on education, which is the first step toward economic independence, and we have laws that protect girls and women and don’t allow for child marriage. However, we have a long way to go in terms of equal pay for equal work.”

- Farah Mohamed, president & CEO, G(irls)20 Summit

Key facts:

*62% of university graduates female – Statistics Canada (2008)

*3/4 of women aged 15-49 use contraception – UN (2005-2010)

*1/3 of federally appointed judges are female – Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs (2012)


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