Canada is the best G20 nation for women, according to a Trustlaw/Thomson Reuters Foundation survey of 370 gender specialists. At the other end of the spectrum are Saudi Arabia and India, which the survey calls the second-worst and worst countries in the G20 for women, respectively.
The survey respondents said that among G20 countries, Canada is doing the best job of protecting women's well-being and basic freedoms. "While we have much more to do," Farah Mohamed, president and CEO of the Canada-based G(irls) 20 Summit, said, "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".
In India, meanwhile, "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", said Gulshun Rehman, health programme development advister at Save the Children UK, one of the poll recipients. A UN study found that in 2007, 22 women were killed each day in India in dowry-related disputes.
And Saudi Arabia, one of the richest Gulf countries, was ranked second-worst on the list. Yasmeen Hassan, the Global Director of New York-based Equality Now, says "given Saudi Arabia's institutionalized and state-supported discrimination against women, it is surprising that Saudi Arabia did not rank lower". Hassan went on, "women and girls in Saudi Arabia are treated as perpetual minors living under male guardianship all their lives - with restrictions on employment, political participation, travel, education and healthcare".
Although it's nice to be number one, not everyone agrees with the survey's assessment of Canada. Kathleen Laney, a Queen's University law professor who has reported on gender equality to Parliamentary Finance committees and Status of Women committees, believes the status of Canadian women has been steadily declining since the late nineties. She points out that the UN Gender Inequality Index ranked Canada 20th in the world in 2011, and that according to Statistics Canada, women make 68.3 percent what their male counterparts with the same education do. That's actually worse than in 1990, when women earned 69.2 percent of what men did.
Here's the full rankings list - the survey's authors noted that the United States, in sixth place, "polarized opinion due to issues surrounding reproductive rights and affordable healthcare":
6. United States
10. South Korea
16. South Africa
18. Saudi Arabia
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