Some are more Equal than others
March 4, 2012 11:56 AM   Subscribe

The best and worst places to be a woman is an Independent on Sunday investigation to mark International Women's Day which unearths some surprising results
Are we EQUALS? Is a series of short films about whether men and women are really equals in 2012.
posted by adamvasco (24 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
17. Best place to be an athlete: US

Title IX, what what!
posted by jonp72 at 12:17 PM on March 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


It would be good to see the full lists and the statistics that back them up. I was really surprised at the UK's poor performance on most of these and would like to see the figures, particularly around education.
posted by Summer at 12:34 PM on March 4, 2012


The worst country, Saudi Arabia, has never sent a female athlete to the Olympics

Yet Saudi Arabia is allowed to enter, despite violating the International Olympic Committee's own charter.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:43 PM on March 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wonder what it is about Saudi Arabia that means it constantly gets a pass. Hmmm, puzzling.
posted by Summer at 12:48 PM on March 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Maybe they bring really awesome salads to the IOC planning potlucks.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:49 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I couldn't drive in Delhi btw and life is hard if you add woman *plus* minority in most places.

Ironically, New Delhi is also one the worst places to be a woman - eve teasing capital of the world.
posted by infini at 1:08 PM on March 4, 2012


19. Best place to drive a car: India

Best line to take out of context for a true WTF moment.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:46 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting bit from that article about Eve Teasing that could be applicable to the Sandra Fluke thread. When men lose their power over women they grow resentful and try and snatch it back:

The problem first received public and media attention in 1960s. In the following decades, more and more women started pursuing college and working independently, meaning that they were often no longer accompanied by a male escort as had been a norm in traditional society. In response, the problem grew to alarming proportions, despite this not being the case in other cultures where women go and come as they please
posted by Summer at 2:02 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think anyone can be anyone's equal in general. But you might get equal consideration (for a job or a vote), equal responsibility (on a job, in office), or equal compensation.

I get the impression that talk of equality in general is taken to refer to equality in those situations and of those allocations that the speaker considers significant. I guess I can assume that business and political issues are significant more or less by definition. Not sure about anything else, though.
posted by LogicalDash at 2:20 PM on March 4, 2012


4. Best place to read and write: Lesotho

Literacy rates among women in Lesotho exceed those of men, with 95 per cent of women able to read and write, compared with 83 per cent of men. The UK is ranked 21st. The worst country is Ethiopia, where only 18 per cent of women can read and write, compared with 42 per cent of men.


This makes no sense. So if there's a country where women have a, say, 10% literacy rate, and men have a 5% literacy rate, somehow that's a better place than one where men and woman are both at 99%?
posted by dmd at 2:50 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm confused.

3. Best place to be a mother: Norway

Norway is the world's best place to be a mother, with low risks of maternal mortality – one in 7,600 – and skilled help at nearly all births. The UK is ranked 13th. The worst is Afghanistan, where a woman is at least 200 times more likely to die during childbirth than from bombs or bullets.

8. Best place to give birth: Greece

Greece is the world's safest place to give birth, with a one in 31,800 risk of dying in childbirth. The UK is in 13th position, but the worst place to have a baby is thought to be the world's newest country, South Sudan. There are fewer than 20 midwives in the whole country.


These seem to be measuring the same thing, and yet, different results. Huh?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:56 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sys Rq, if I understand it correctly, #3 refers to maternal mortality, and #8 refers to infant mortality. But I agree, it seems like it ought to be one general category.
posted by rebennett at 3:50 PM on March 4, 2012


The video link is worth a look -- less simplistic

I like the 5 bottles of shampoo video

And the closing catch phrase on each that I watched:

"Are we equals? Until the answer is yes, we should never stop asking"
posted by chapps at 3:52 PM on March 4, 2012


Also, whatever you do, don't read the comment section. I think I need a shower.
posted by rebennett at 3:55 PM on March 4, 2012


"Joy Kenyi, a 38-year-old mother of four, lives in South Sudan, the world's newest nation and the worst place for a woman to give birth. Mrs Kenyi works for Unicef and is a specialist on maternal health. After she experienced a traumatic first birth, she helped to launch a motorbike ambulance scheme to rush women to health centres during pregnancy."

...that doesn't sound so comfortable. (Great that they're getting some help though)
posted by nzydarkxj at 5:35 PM on March 4, 2012


These seem to be measuring the same thing, and yet, different results. Huh?

I was really excited by the premise of the article: comparing the best and worst places for women in different areas of life? Cool! This is something I can use both in school and at work. Especially the latter, because women's issues come up every day in some capacity or another in my workplace. Literally, I thought, "I bet I'll learn something in this article that I can discuss with my boss tomorrow."

I am so disappointed, and pretty annoyed because I think the subject absolutely had the potential to be a very good article. Instead, the whole point of the article is undermined because it is very badly written. The phrasing in the article makes it difficult to follow, and there are so many inferences that need more explanation.

Sys Rq already covered one issue: that #3 and #8 sound to the reader like they're addressing the same topic (how many women die in childbirth) but coming to different conclusions.

Sys Rq, if I understand it correctly, #3 refers to maternal mortality, and #8 refers to infant mortality. But I agree, it seems like it ought to be one general category.

Yeah, that's what I would think too — except that it refers to "dying in childbirth," a phrase generally referring to mothers dying in childbirth. Either way, it's too ambiguous.

1. Best place to be a woman: Iceland

Iceland has the greatest equality between men and women, taking into account politics, education, employment and health indicators. The UK comes in at 16th place, down one since 2010. The worst is Yemen, and the most dangerous is Afghanistan.


That last sentence is confusing to me. Yemen is the "worst" but Afghanistan is the "most dangerous." Wouldn't the most dangerous place also be the worst place? If there are other factors that make Yemen worse than the "most dangerous" Afghanistan, they should be explored.

4. Best place to read and write: Lesotho

Literacy rates among women in Lesotho exceed those of men, with 95 per cent of women able to read and write, compared with 83 per cent of men. The UK is ranked 21st. The worst country is Ethiopia, where only 18 per cent of women can read and write, compared with 42 per cent of men.


Why is the "best place to read and write" for a woman determined solely by which country has the highest literacy rate for women only in comparison to men? (That's how the reasoning reads to me.) And FYI, when I plugged "literacy rates for women countries" into Google, the first two hits (Nationmaster and CIA.gov) BOTH list multiple other countries in which the literacy rate for women is 100%, including Finland, Greenland, Luxembourg, and Norway.

18. Best place to leave your husband: Guam

The Micronesian island of Guam has the highest divorce rate in the world, and Guatemala has the lowest. The number of divorces in England and Wales in 2010 increased by 4.9 per cent since 2009.


I don't even know where to begin with this one. First of all, did you even bother researching what percent of those divorces are wives leaving husbands, as opposed to husbands leaving wives, or both of them deciding together that divorce is necessary? Did you find evidence that judges in Guam are more favorable to women when it comes to division of assets and alimony than they are in other countries? (And if so, why isn't that included?) Also, there are myriad ways to interpret a high divorce statistic, and many of them are not good. (One such example: you could say that Guam is the country in which women are least happy in their marriages.)

And you know what is arguably worse than the badly written, confusing, drawing-conclusions-without-explaining-them comparison of best and worst places for women? The fact that the stories about the individual women are saved until the end of the article. For me, those short blurbs were the only redeeming part of the article, and they're at the end instead of the beginning. A Unicef specialist on maternal health from South Sudan? A visually impaired teacher in Lesotho? The woman who organized Afghanistan's first march against sexual harassment? Yeah, I wish the article had consisted only of in-depth interviews with the women in the blurbs. I think I'd have learned something worthwhile.
posted by hypotheticole at 6:10 PM on March 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


11. Best place for the right to choose: Sweden

Sweden permits women to have abortions without restrictions for the first 18 weeks of pregnancy and there are no mandatory consent regulations.

Wait, what? I was just discussing this with my daughter tonight. Abortions in Canada are a normal medical procedure and thus have no laws restricting them (including late term abortions). There is no need for a doctor's referral either or informing the parent of a minor. There are problems of access, rural women especially suffer, as do the women of PEI, but abortion is a free medical procedure outside of the legal system.
posted by saucysault at 9:23 PM on March 4, 2012


Best place to be equal: The Internet

Where nobody knows you're a dog
posted by infini at 9:26 PM on March 4, 2012


What a shoddy excuse of an article. Seriously, I've seen astrology predictions that have had more research than this waste of pixels. Absolutely context-free, so you have such awesomeness as this one:

Women have run Sri Lanka for 23 years.

All 23 of which were run by this mother-daughter pair, six of which were overlapping years. Bandaranaike being elected as the PM was, doubtless, a great step forward, and I don't mean to diminish her achievement, but to laud this political dynasty's rule as a generic step for women in general, or even to somehow claim this means Sri Lanka would be the country where women would somehow find it easiest to become the head of state is to completely miss the plot. It'd be like, I don't know, lauding Jurassic Park for its contribution to Hawaiian tourism.

Which, as surprising as it may seem, still isnt as big a booboo as this:

New Delhi is the best place for women wanting to break into the male-dominated world of taxi drivers. An NGO in the country's capital launched an initiative to train women in the first radio-taxi service run only by women.

So let's pretend we didn't notice the subtle change of subject between the sub-heading and the text; the sub-heading talked about drivers in general, while the text talks about taxi-drivers in specificity. It's a textual sleight of hand; let's pretend that we're talking about what makes Delhi the best city in the world for women to, not drive, but to start driving taxis.

And that's where the sheer shoddiness of this piece is at its breathtaking best. In an urban agglomeration with 11.2 million cars, the NGO in question has trained a grand-total of 20 drivers, with another 20 potentially trained by a taxi firm. That is to say, an addition of 0.000357142857% more taxi-drivers who are women has apparently made Delhi the best place to drive.

This while completely ignoring the bigger point that the taxi-firm in question, ForShe, seemingly has bigger operations in Mumbai, and is ramping up in Calcutta as well. I'll leave it to everyone else to find international statistics on women taxi-drivers in other world cities.

Here's my question to whoever wrote this piece of junk: why bother in the first place? Surely, it's a lot more insulting to come up with a pandering, ill-argued piece of nonsense than it is to completely ignore International Women's Day. I suppose we should be happy that this wasn't printed with pink and flowers and crap.
posted by the cydonian at 2:30 AM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


*grins at the cydonian*

aka wah wah huzoor bahut khoob moar
posted by infini at 2:42 AM on March 5, 2012


launch a motorbike ambulance scheme to rush women to health centres during pregnancy."
...that doesn't sound so comfortable. (Great that they're getting some help though)


A colleague in a previous life was working on bicycle ambulances. A quick google search pulls up more and more projects on bicycle ambulances for places as far afield as Zambia, Namibia and Nepal, and that is just in the titles of the first page of results.
posted by whatzit at 3:41 AM on March 5, 2012


16. Best place to be a lady of leisure: Denmark
Women in Denmark have more time for leisure, spending only 57 more minutes each day on unpaid work than men, the lowest in the OECD. British women spend two hours more per day doing unpaid work than men. Mexican women have it hardest, spending four hours 21 minutes more on unpaid work than men.


This is so depressing.
posted by kettleoffish at 5:58 PM on March 5, 2012


wah wah huzoor bahut khoob

Cathartic, yes. :)
posted by the cydonian at 1:30 AM on March 6, 2012


Are we Equals, 007?
posted by infini at 11:02 PM on March 9, 2012


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