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Canada best G20 country to be a woman, India worst

Thomson Reuters Foundation, 13 June 2012

After Canada, Germany, Britain, Australia and France rounded out the top five in the perceptions poll.

London, June 13 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - TrustLaw, a Thomson Reuters Foundation legal news service, today launches a global poll of experts on the worst and best countries for women in the G20.

Policies that promote gender equality, safeguards against violence and exploitation and access to healthcare make Canada the best place to be a woman among the world’s biggest economies, while infanticide, child marriage and slavery make India the worst, the survey showed.

“For too many women in too many countries, basic rights remain a luxury and even in some of the most developed economies women are often considered as second rate citizens,” said Monique Villa, Thomson Reuters Foundation CEO. “This poll also shows that laws and treaties on women’s rights often don’t reflect the reality on the ground.”

The survey ranks the 19 countries that make up the Group of 20 economies, in terms of how women fare using six categories: quality of health, freedom from violence, participation in politics, workplace opportunities, access to resources and freedom of trafficking and slavery.

It comes ahead of a summit of G20 heads of state in Mexico, on June 18-19.

After Canada, Germany, Britain, Australia and France rounded out the top five in the perceptions poll. The United States came in sixth but polarised opinion due to issues surrounding reproductive rights and affordable healthcare.

At the other end of the scale, Saudi Arabia - where women are well educated but are banned from driving and only won the right to vote in 2011 - polled second-worst after India, followed by Indonesia, South Africa and Mexico.

“In India, women and girls continue to be sold as chattels, married off as young as 10, burned alive as a result of dowry-related disputes and young girls exploited and abused as domestic slave labour,” said Gulshun Rehman, health programme development adviser at Save the Children UK.

“This is despite a groundbreakingly progressive Domestic Violence Act enacted in 2005 outlawing all forms of violence against women and girls."

TrustLaw polled 370 aid professionals, academics, health workers, policymakers, journalists and development specialists with expertise in gender issues.

Respondents came from 63 countries on five continents and included experts from United Nations Women, the International Rescue Committee, Plan International, Amnesty USA and Oxfam International, as well as prominent academic institutions and campaigning organisations.

How they rank

Best and worst G20 countries for women

1. Canada
2. Germany
3. Britain
4. Australia
5. France
6. United States
7. Japan
8. Italy
9. Argentina
10. South Korea
11. Brazil
12. Turkey
13. Russia
14. China
15. Mexico
16. South Africa
17. Indonesia
18. Saudi Arabia
19. India