The world still has a long way to go before the gender gaps in every aspect of life, from income to health care, are fully closed. While no country handles women's issues perfectly (yet), there are some countries which feminists should be especially concerned about — places where women still face severe oppression, and lack many freedoms much of the world takes for granted. When girls aren't allowed to go to school, are married off as children, and are forced to obey their husbands, they have little say in how they live their lives
Our goal isn't to point fingers at other nations and say how non-feminist they are, because the United States definitely isn't the best country for women. In fact, the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked the U.S. 20th in the treatment of women worldwide. Iceland has consistently been named the best country for women, due to its narrow gender gaps in education, health care, political empowerment, and economic participation, and every country in the world could take some pointers from its success, including the U.S. However, it's important to understand that women in other parts of the world don't experience the same semblance of equality that we do.
Here are the six countries feminists should be worried about the most.
The WEF ranked Yemen as the worst country in the world for women. Only half of Yemeni women can read, only 26 percent participate in the labor force (earning only 28 percent of what men in the country earn), and they have no representation in parliament. Child marriage is also very prevalent in Yemen — more than half of Yemeni girls are married before the age of 18.
In Pakistan, less than half of women know how to read, and only 31 percent make it to secondary school, according to the WEF. A quarter of Pakistani women participate in the labor force, earning a meager 18 percent of what men are paid. The country has made some political progress over the years, however, and now has seats in parliament reserved for women.
Women in Chad work at higher rates — 65 percent are in the labor force, and they earn 62 percent of what men earn, according to WEF. Still, they lack quality education, as only 28 percent can read and only five percent will get a secondary education. Women are at the bottom of the social hierarchy in Chad, and violence against them is a major problem.
The ongoing conflict in Syria makes the situation for women there even worse — girls are often forced to marry ISIS fighters to save their families, or to help the fighters integrate into Syrian society. While the country has a relatively high female literacy rate at 79 percent, just 14 percent of Syrian women are in the workforce, according to the WEF report.
Mali is an extremely patriarchal society, and women must ask their husbands for permission to do anything, including leaving the house. According to WEF, more than half of Malian women work outside the home, but they earn only 41 percent of what men earn.
The problems Indian women face on a daily basis have gained more attention recently, but violence against them is still a huge problem. Sexism and gender norms runs deep in Indian society, and according to WEF, only 30 percent of women participate in the labor force.
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