The fact that we’re experiencing a gender revolution is undeniable. All across the world, women’s rights are being fought for, and the gender gap is beginning to finally close up. Even though feminism is a trending topic, there are still hundreds of places across the world in which women’s rights are not even on the cultural agenda.
Living in countries in which women exist only as second class citizens, is the cruel reality for millions of women across the globe and no matter how much the rest of us try and highlight their struggle, their situation still remains the same. Women in the following countries live in some of the poorest conditions imaginable and if we want to make a real change, we should look to altering the ways in which these countries run, before helping ourselves.
While the early 2000s focused on the conflicts in Afghanistan, in recent years, events happening in the country have failed to make top news stories. Despite not being in the public eye, however, the country continues to struggle with violence, underdevelopment and gender discrimination. Being a citizen in Afghanistan is a very real struggle, but if you’re a woman, you might just be even worse off.
The life expectancy for a female in the country is a meager 45 years old, while a shocking 83% of the female population is illiterate. As if that wasn’t bad enough, half of the women getting married are under the age of 16- one of the lowest figures in the world. Forget about professional equality; women in Afghanistan are craving for any kind of social right.
While it might have a buzzing tourist trade, Morocco is one of the worst places in the world to live if you are a woman. Western tourists might be treated rather well in the country, but if you live in the area as a citizen, things are incredibly different. The disparity between male and female rights in the country is one of the worst in the world; only 27% of women are employed in Morocco. Compare that to the 79% professional participation of men and you can begin to comprehend the gravitas of the situation.
Men are also paid roughly three times more than their female counterparts in the country, leaving the working women struggling to make ends meet, despite their best efforts. While women might be trying to make a good life for themselves, conditions in the country are very much against their success.
In landlocked Western Africa, Mali is one of the poorest places in the world, and also one of the most difficult places to live. While daily life might be a struggle for everyone in the country, it is significantly worse if you happen to be a woman. Roughly 90% of the female population has been found to have suffered from some kind of Female Genital Mutilation, a process which is still relatively commonplace in the region’s smaller villages. Even worse, the number of cases of FGM reported doesn’t appear to have fallen since records began in 1993. Despite increased international focus on the region, very little has been done to improve things for the women in Mali.
An Arab nation with one of the richest cultural histories in the world, Jordan is also one of the most difficult places to live if you’re a woman. Only 16% of the women in the country are gainfully employed, a figure which is one of the lowest around the world. The fact that women earn roughly 18% of what men earn in their positions should come as no surprise; women are largely discouraged from entering the working force, and they are expected to run the home. Despite Jordan having a strong female presence at the head of state, women’s rights have gone relatively unnoticed in the country, and even now, only 2% of the country’s governmental roles are completed by women.
There’s no denying the fact that Syria is one of the most dangerous places you could live at this moment in time. Native citizens face new threats every day and across the country, Syrians are fleeing their land in the hopes of making a better life for themselves. While the country’s men are becoming caught up in the war conflict, women have been left to pick up the pieces in their home lives. Without the aid of the government or international services, they are suffering in multiple ways. However, it’s not just due to the conflict; even before the presence of ISIS, things were very bad for Syrian women. Literacy rates in local women are amongst some of the lowest in the world and the percentage of women in the work force - 14% - is one of the worst recorded on the planet.
Even more shockingly, ISIS manifestoes have announced that girls as young as 9 can marry fighters, and that any sort of education for women should happen only between the ages of 7 and 15. Women in Syria face some of the most terrible conditions of them all.
Bordered by Syria and Israel, Lebanon is a country that is continuously involved in conflict and warfare. Caught up in international tension, the political state is one of the most unsettled places in the world, and presents huge discriminatory problems. A miniscule 3% of the country’s governmental seats are held by women, giving the female population virtually no way to voice their needs and concerns. The legal system throws up all sorts of problems for the female population, too. Clashes between political and religious beliefs means that domestic violence is still relatively common. Despite having introduced a new anti-domestic violence law, the country still has a long way to go in order to secure a better future for its female inhabitants.
Despite being one of the most stunning places on the planet, Nepal faces many problems and growing up as a citizen in this country is very difficult indeed. While the local population might be renowned for their friendly, laid-back nature, they suffer from a multitude of problems and if you’re a woman, you do not even benefit from the same kinds of rights as men. 1 in 24 women will die due to pregnancy and childbirth complications- most cases of which are preventable by modern medicine. The issue lies in the country’s religious beliefs; both Hindu and Buddhist laws prevent women from going to the hospital, meaning that they often give birth in remote, unsanitary areas. If a woman manages to survive childbirth, she must wait for 13 days in a barn before she can leave and receive the medical help that she needs.
8. Cote d’Ivoire
Females looking to educate themselves in Cote d’Ivoire, face some of the biggest issues in the world. Literacy rates for both men and women are some of the lowest in the world, and only 30% of the women in the country are literate, compared to 50% of the male population. The issue lies in school enrolment. When school begins, only around 56% of young girls are registered to begin their education- the rest are kept in the domestic environment. Even those who do manage to go to school are faced with poor educational conditions, resulting in illiteracy and ill-attendance.
Issues in Yemen have been prevalent for some time now and as the years go by, the divide between men’s and women’s rights just seems to widen. In general, women have absolutely no power in society and in the household; it is up to the man to run the show. Things are so bad, in fact, that women must obtain authority from their husbands in order to leave the house and go to work. In social life, things aren’t much better, either; out of 301 parliamentarians in the country, only one is a woman. In terms of social and political sway, women from Yemen have zero power. Add to this the fact that over half of women are married by the time they’re 18, and you can begin to understand how bad the situation is.
Women looking to make a name for themselves in business, will struggle to do so in Iran. The country is plagued with one of the worst imbalances between labour participation and income in the world, and it particularly affects the female population. The 17% of women, who do manage to go to work, take in a measly $4,656 per year, in comparison to the men’s annual salary of $26,644. Some of the issues might lie with the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who issued an edict to increase the Iranian population and turn women away from work. While a number of companies have expressed their concern with the plans, very few have appeared to do anything in order to change it, and for now, Iranian women face a very bleak future.
Women’s rights are all over the media right now, but we might just be looking in the wrong place if we really want to make a change. While things in the western world are improving, countries in the developing world face a situation much more dire and troubling. In order to make the world a better place for all, we might need to help these women in need; and who knows, maybe there will be a better future for them soon enough.