According to McKinsey Global Institute, the world could add over $12 trillion to its gross domestic product by 2015 if it closed the gender gap. The global gender equality situation is looking grim, with more and more countries not doing enough to improve the situation. Out of the top 10 that the research firm perceived to have the worst gender equality records, 8 of them are Muslim-majority nations. This is because Sharia law often comes in the way of governance when it comes to issues such as marriage, divorce, and inheritance. The list below highlights the top 7 nations for gender equality worldwide.
1. Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is home to some of the strictest interpretations of Sharia law. The country’s police force is religious, and often enforces the law. Women in Saudi Arabia are considered to be minors. They aren’t supposed to leave home without the company of their male guardians usually referred to as ‘mahrams’. In 2015, a historic election granted the country’s women a right to vote, for the first time ever. However, they still are not allowed to drive.
2. South Korea
You might think that South Korea would be a better example compared to its northern neighbor, but that’s actually not the case. The country’s female workers do earn over 1/3 less than what their male counterparts earn. This is interesting especially considered that the country’s current president is female, and she’s promised to improve this situation.
Participation in the labor force by Indian women stands at a meager 30%. If the country was to do something to improve this situation, it would gain the most, adding up to $700 billion to its national economy by 2015. In India, male children usually receive preferential treatment. It’s not uncommon that pregnancies are terminated where the sex is female. This has created a young population in India that’s overwhelmingly male.
In Algeria, women hold over 30% of all parliamentary seats, which is much better compared to the global average of 20%. However, various societal norms and stereotypes within the country have contributed to a grim picture of gender equality.
A conservative Muslim law combines with the patriarchal society common in many Asian countries to create a disheartening status of gender equality in Malaysia. The World Economic Forum says that Malaysia is one of the worst performing upper-middle-income countries in the world when it comes to Gender equality.
Iran is one among only 6 countries that have refused to ratify the UN’s convention on the Elimination of all types of discrimination against women. This old treaty seeks to standardize women rights around the world. Following the 1979 revolution, progressive gender equality laws reverted. Gender segregation is common in the workplace, as well as in sporting events.
Turkey was one of the first Muslim countries to allow women to vote, it still has a negative record for gender equality. The country is, however, lacking when it comes to the participation of women in government, and the workforce. This situation has lead concerns regarding the country’s membership in the European Union.