The Bottom of the Gender Equality Pie

Posted on 14 March 2011 by

When protesters toppled their governments in Tunisia and Egypt, and demonstrations spread around the globe, the world paid attention. The BBC in particular put up an interesting series of factsheets on corruption, demographics and unrest in some of the North Africa, Middle East and Gulf states.

This was very much a story of a hopeless people, we were told. Of a fed-up youth with a dead-end future. But the gender lens through which the region could be seen was missing.

Yet the realities of women in that region can be just as harsh, their composite story framed by limited access to health and education, vulnerable jobs, lack of political representation, and discriminatory laws and edicts – as revealed, among others, by statistics released by the UN and the World Economic Forum. So we created some snapshots of excerpts from those statistics to bring them forward a bit.

The truth is that rattling off the bottom of the country rankings list in gender equality sounded like a geography lesson on this region of the world. Case in point: Yemen is last in the gender gap rankings. It’s a chilling reality when 1 in every 91 women dies in childbirth in Yemen. When only 1 of the 301 parliamentarians is a woman.

And at the same time, Yemen is an extreme but not an exception: joining that country in the bottom 20 rankings of the gender gap are: Lebanon, Qatar, Algeria, Jordan, Oman, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Morocco and Saudi Arabia.

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