2 troubled nations tie for dubious distinction as worst countries in the world to be a woman

A Syrian woman and children run for cover amid the rubble of buildings following government bombing in the rebel-held town of Hamouria, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on February 19, 2018. (ABDULMONAM EASSA/AFP/Getty Images)

Syria and Afghanistan have tied as the worst countries in the world to be a woman, according to an index that measured women’s “well being and empowerment” across 153 countries. The 2018 Women, Peace and Security Index, which was put together by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security and the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, measured factors such as years of schooling, employment, war, intimate partner violence, and women in positions of political power.

In Syria, the ongoing civil war has led to women routinely being sexually abused in return for humanitarian aid — to the point that many women are reportedly avoiding seeking necessary supplies because their communities will assume they sold their bodies in exchange. In Afghanistan, more than 80 percent of women are estimated to be illiterate and two-thirds of girls are out of school by the time they hit puberty, according to the report.

Rounding out the worst places to be a woman in the world, in order, were Pakistan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Mali, Sudan, and Niger. Iceland, which earlier this year became the first country in the world to make it illegal to pay women less than men for performing the same job, was judged the best place in the world to be a woman. The next best places for women in the world were Norway, Switzerland, Slovenia, Spain, Finland, Canada, Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, and Singapore.

On Thursday, in honor of International Women’s Day, more than 5 million women went on strike in Spain to protest widespread sexism, violence against women, the gender pay gap, and discrimination against women in the workplace. According to a 2015 World Bank survey, women continue to face legal discrimination against in their work environments in 155 out of 173 countries.

The United States, where abortion rights face near-constant attack from conservative legislatures and maternal childbirth death rates continue to climb, was ruled the 22nd best place to be a woman. In Mississippi, a state with only one abortion clinic, lawmakers passed a law on Thursday to prohibit abortions after just 15 weeks of pregnancy. Saudi Arabia, despite its oppressive male guardianship laws, came in as the 99th place to be a woman, beating out 54 other countries.

Read the full story at USA Today.


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