Worst Places in the World to be a Woman
Studies have shown that in societies with rigid gender norms, men feel emasculated and threatened when they experience a shift in gender roles, which can lead to an increase in intimate partner violence.
Across the globe many women and girls still face discrimination on the basis of sex and gender. Gender inequality underpins many problems which disproportionately affect women and girls, such as domestic and sexual violence, lower pay, lack of access to education, and inadequate healthcare. In this report we took a quick look at women’s rights in three countries.
Beyond the oil, wealth, and saving opportunities, expats considering a move should understand the reality of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. Although the Kingdom has eased some restrictive policies in recent years, gender equality remains an ideal for the far future.
- Compared to the rest of the world, the Kingdom offers women very little freedom and autonomy. Historically, much of this social control has focused on the country’s guardian system, whereby a woman needed her male guardian (a father, husband, brother, son, or another male relative) to accompany her in public and to allow her to travel, get an education or a job, undergo surgery, and get married.
- When it comes to women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, one of the main points of contention is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), which still occurs in the Kingdom; by both Saudi and foreign communities. A recent study found that nearly one in five women had undergone the procedure.
- Women can seek work in Saudi Arabia, however, it can be difficult. If you are on your husband’s work permit, you have to get his permission to work, since he is your guardian. Only around 22% of Saudi women are employed and, unfortunately, earn on average 56% of what men make. The percentage of senior-level positions in the Kingdom held by women is 1.27%.
- Because of its very nature, it is difficult to know the true rates of domestic violence in Saudi Arabia; in fact, this was only made a crime in 2013. In 2015, the Saudi government stated that it adjudicated 8,016 cases of domestic violence cases. However, because many women are deterred from turning to the authorities and because in some cases it is difficult to make an accusation of domestic violence without a guardian present, it is safe to assume that this number is a very low estimate.
Some people believe what is happening right now in Afghanistan is the most serious women’s rights crisis in the world today. When the Taliban announced on May 7 that women and girls should not leave their homes unless necessary and should do so only with their whole bodies including their faces covered, some people were surprised. Others were not.
Among the surprised: Some diplomats and other Afghanistan watchers who listened to Taliban leaders promise during negotiations and at their news conference two days after seizing the capital that they would respect all women’s rights this time, including their freedom of movement and access to employment and education. And those who were not surprised: Afghan women who lived through the last period of Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001 and Afghan women’s rights activists.
- The Taliban appointed an all-male cabinet.
- They abolished the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and replaced it with the Ministry of Vice and Virtue, which issued the most recent order.
- They banned secondary education for girls and banned women from almost all jobs.
- They blocked women from traveling long distances or leaving the country alone.
- They dismantled the system to protect women and girls from violence and made it difficult for them to get health care.
- They issued new rules for how women must dress and behave.
- They enforce these rules through violence.
In Yemen, women have been suffering from deeply entrenched gender inequality rooted in a patriarchal society with rigid gender roles. While the conflict in Yemen has had a horrific impact on all civilians generally, women and girls have been disproportionately affected.
Negative gender stereotypes and patriarchal attitudes, a discriminatory legal system, and economic inequality have compounded women’s vulnerability to violence. The fighting has left the country’s people struggling with a dire economic crisis, damaged infrastructure and collapsed services. But in addition, women have had to contend with limited mobility due to cultural gender norms. Also, since they are responsible for providing food and care in their homes, they have had to struggle with the challenges of limited (or lack of) access to food, water, sanitation and health care services – which has seen a steady deterioration as the conflict continues.
- According to Article 40 of Yemen’s Personal Status Law, a woman cannot acquire employment in the same capacity as a male and “the work must have been agreed by her husband.” The most recent figure from 2019 is the 6.04% employment rate for women in Yemen.
- there is no legislation prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace, nor are there legal sanctions or civil recourse for workplace sexual misconduct. Because of the unspoken societal consensus that females are often at fault, women are less likely to submit a sexual misconduct complaint due to concerns around receiving accusations of soliciting men’s attention.
- Yemen sees women as secondary to males. Because of that, many women in Yemen cannot make important family decisions. In Yemen, there is no particular statute regarding spousal abuse. Females do not disclose abuse instances because they are afraid of arrest or further abuse.