Australia In Top Ranking for Women
19 June 2012 at 4:18 pm
Australia has been ranked fourth among the world's wealthiest nations to be a woman, with Canada at the top of the list, according to a poll of experts by TrustLaw, a legal news service run by Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The United States ranked sixth among the 19 countries in the Group of 20 economies, excluding the European Union economic grouping, in the global survey of 370 recognised gender specialists.
Germany, Britain, Australia and France followed Canada in that order, while India, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia polled the worst. The Poll said in Australia, laws and policies protect women’s rights and promote their freedoms but they aren’t always reflected by the situation on the ground.
Despite similarities between Canada and the United States in education and economic opportunity, the countries are very different in the area of gender equality, the experts said. Canada's constitution promotes and safeguards women's rights while a lack of consensus over reproductive rights in particular erodes them in the United States, experts said.
"Canada leads the pack with its promotion of women's access and opportunities across various sectors of society, including education, economic participation and healthcare," said Sarah Degnan Kambou, president of the International Center for Research on Women in Washington, which took part in the survey.
The poll showed how the lack of universal health care and the struggle over abortion rights in the United States – important issues ahead of the November presidential election – were key to perceptions of women's freedoms in the country, according to the experts polled.
Respondents came from 63 countries on five continents and included aid professionals, academics, health workers, policymakers, journalists and development specialists with experience in gender issues. Representatives of faith-based organisations were also surveyed.
While a pregnant woman in Canada is guaranteed 15 weeks paid maternity leave, she receives no federally guaranteed time off with pay in the United States. If the expectant mother is one of the 16 percent of American women under 65 with no health insurance – according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – she may have to forgo adequate prenatal and postnatal care because she can't afford it.
Canada also ranks better than the United States on maternal mortality, reporting 12 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2008, half the number recorded in the United States, according to the United Nations.
Neither Canada nor the United States has managed to resolve the gender pay gap.
“It’s not surprising the U.S. did not make the top 5 ‘best’ countries, given the serious violations of women’s rights that continue to occur,” said Yasmeen Hassan, Global Director of Equality Now.
Aside from quality of health, the TrustLaw survey asked respondents to rank G20 countries in terms of the overall best and worst places for women and in the categories of freedom from violence, participation in politics, workplace opportunities, access to resources like education and property rights and freedom from trafficking and slavery.
HOW THEY RANK
Best and worst G20 countries for women
6. United States
10. South Korea
16. South Africa
18. Saudi Arabia