It’s not particularly easy being a woman in most countries; even in areas where women are presumably seen as equal to men, their pay is often lacking. But that’s just one part of the problem. In some places, women receive minimal education, have a short life expectancy, are likely to lose a child at some point, and don’t have easy access to medical treatment.
In its annual State of the World’s Mothers report, Save the Children compared 165 countries (the majority in the developing world) on progress in maternal health, economic status, education, contraception use, and more.
If you don’t feel like reading through the whole report, The National Post has laid out the findings in an infographic (click to make larger).
Unsurprisingly, the Scandinavian countries that often top quality of life rankings are tops, with longer life expectancies, years in school, more contraception use, a higher percentage of government seats held by women, and a higher ratio of female to male earned income. Among the "More Developed Countries" on the list, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Albania fare the worst. The U.S. is behind Canada, but ahead of some European countries.
Among the "Less Developed Countries," Israel does the best (though it’s odd that the country isn’t considered more developed). Barbados, Cuba, and Cyprus follow close behind, and Iraq and North Korea rank last (North Korea probably should be in the "Least Developed" category) .
The "Least Developed Countries" fare the worst for women. Bhutan, the top-ranked country on that list, still only has 31% of the population using modern contraception. But Somalia, the country ranked dead last, has only 1% of the population using modern contraception. Women only spend an average of two years in school, and the average life expectancy is 53.
Save the Children offers a number of policy recommendations to alleviate some of these problems. The bottom line: better nutrition education will make a big difference. Obviously, though, there need to be larger systemic changes to really change the place of women in the world.