Seeing as yesterday was International Women’s Day, I thought that using world maps to explore successes and struggles of women around the world would be appropriate for this week’s Map Monday.
I must say that some of the rankings showing on these maps for countries I know something about are somewhat misleading. There is a difference between what is officially written into law and how that law is put into practice. It might be time to create some maps that show the differences between the gathering of bare facts, their interpretation, and many women’s reality. Let’s take a look.
Global Gender Equality. I’m starting with this map because it reveals the relative nature of the definition of the best place to be a girl. Canada is ranked as one of the best countries in the world to be a girl, which it may well be. (The methodology for arriving at these rankings can be found at www.worldvision.org.) However, many girls and women in Canada would have trouble believing this to be true, given the frustrations over lack of action in the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women inquiries, the number of women who have to seek shelter from abusive relationships, the continuing wage gap between men and women, the lack of female representation in politics, the challenges of litigating for rape and domestic violence, the egregious headscarf ban in the name of so-called secularism in Quebec, etc. But, as I say, it is all relative. In Canada, one of the “best countries for girls”, much work remains. In countries further down the list, far, far more work is needed. The challenges and continuing human rights abuses are many.
You can interpret the remaining maps with the same mindset: high rankings do not necessarily mean that all is rosy. It’s all relative.
Constitutional rights for women.
More constitutional rights for women.
Gender wage equity.
Government participation for women. I have to interject here that increasing a country’s participation of women in government by giving extra marks for female ministers is misleading. Canada does not deserve that high a rating! The percentage of women in Canada’s parliament is closer to 29% than 40%+.
Comprehensiveness of domestic violence laws. Another example of where the laws might be in place, even be “adequately comprehensive”, but they are not necessarily working effectively in many cases.
Physical security of women.
Legal restrictions on abortion. I think this is about to become even more restrictive in some places. This is a women’s health issue, a women’s economic issue, and a women’s human rights issue.
Maternal mortality rate.
Access to maternal (or parental) leave.
Lots to think about. Lots of work to be done.