Global Human Rights Defence

Women’s Rights Mechanisms in the Worst Countries to be Women in 2022

Women’s Rights Mechanisms in the Worst Countries to be Women in 2022
Photo Source: “fine art portrait” engin akyurt/Unsplash, 2020. https://unsplash.com/photos/drypezKbIDY

Author: Saskia Puck

Department: Women’s Rights Team

Introduction

In 2021, the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security released the newest edition of the Women, Peace and Security Index. This index uses various indicators to determine how each country is placing regarding the status and safety of women. These indicators include inclusion (e.g. education, employment, parliamentary representation), justice (e.g. absence of legal discrimination, discriminatory norms) and security (e.g. intimate partner violence, community safety, organized violence) (Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Peace Research Institute Oslo, 2021). This index theoretically shows the best and worst country to be a woman in during 2021/22. The 5 best ranking countries according to this index are Norway, Finland, Iceland, Denmark and Luxemburg (Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Peace Research Institute Oslo, 2021). In contrast, the 5 worst states to be living as a woman in 2021/22 are Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan and Iraq (Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Peace Research Institute Oslo, 2021).

Knowing the low score of some of these countries, it is paramount to consider which women’s rights mechanisms are in place. These include both the institutions that are designed to assist with ensuring that women’s rights are fulfilled and other innovative solutions that provide a process for women to reach out for help when they are experiencing women’s rights violations. This article will analyze the women’s rights mechanisms available in several countries. The countries chosen have ranked worst in each geographical location, to provide a global perspective. Each section will outline what women’s rights infringements are occurring in each country, and what mechanisms are present to help women. Due to the scope of this article, not every low-ranking state or region or women’s rights mechanism available can be included. The focus will lie on the worst ranking countries regionally and the main organizations or projects to promote women’s rights in the countries.

 

The Middle East and North Africa: Syria

Syria ranks the second-lowest on the Women, Peace and Security Index, with a score of 0.375 out of 1 (Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Peace Research Institute Oslo, 2021). Globally, Syria ranks the lowest in the category of organized crime, and regionally it ranks lowest in community safety (Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Peace Research Institute Oslo, 2021). Furthermore, Syria belongs to the top 6 most violent countries (Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Peace Research Institute Oslo, 2021). 23% of women also experience intimate partner violence. Within 69% of communities in Syria, early and unwanted marriage is a cause of concern (Reyes, 2020).

One of the institutions working to promote women’s rights in Syria is the Syrian Women’s Network. This network has several aims to promote women’s rights such as ensuring women’s participation in constitutional matters, encountering the marginalization experienced by women in areas such as education and societal prosecution, and creating equality in authority positions (Syrian Women’s Network, 2017). Several projects and campaigns have been launched by the Syrian Women’s Network to take steps in this direction (Syrian Women’s Network, 2017). Furthermore, the organisation Women Now for Development launched several humanitarian centres in Syria in later 2018 (Reyes, 2020). These centres are designed to help women with educational skills and medical assistance to promote equality (Reyes, 2020).

 

Sub-Saharan Africa: South Sudan

In Sub-Saharan Africa, South Sudan ranked lowest on the Women, Peace and Security Index with a score of .541 (Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Peace Research Institute Oslo, 2021). Here, 27% of women have experienced intimate partner violence, and furthermore, South Sudan ranks globally worst in cell phone use, with a percentage of 27% of female usage (Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Peace Research Institute Oslo, 2021). Additionally, parliamentary representation of women is down to 26.6%, with financial inclusion being as low as 4.7% (Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Peace Research Institute Oslo, 2021).

            To promote women’s social and economic empowerment, the World Bank has approved a $70 million grant (Sindani, 2022). This grant is also to be used to provide services to women experiencing gender-based violence. Furthermore, the National Democratic Institute (NDI, n.d.), sponsored a 2 year program for women in Sudan and South Sudan to come together to develop advocacy skills (Women from Sudan and South Sudan Act Together on Gender Issues, n.d.). In the meetings, these women discussed issues such as education, representation, and combating social barriers (Women from Sudan and South Sudan Act Together on Gender Issues, n.d.). When returning to their countries, the representatives can apply their new skills to lobby for the promotion of women’s rights and equality.

 

East Asia and the Pacific: Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is ranked 145 with a score of .604 (Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Peace Research Institute Oslo, 2021). Globally, Papua New Guinea ranked worst in the category of parliamentary representation, with 0% (Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Peace Research Institute Oslo, 2021). Regionally, Papua New Guinea also ranked lowest with an intimate partner violence percentage of 31% (Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Peace Research Institute Oslo, 2021). In a United Nations study, 80% of male participants admitted to being perpetrators of some level of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime (Calfo, 2020). Furthermore, 62% of male participants admitted to having committed rape (Calfo, 2020). This is in line with Papua New Guinea having one of the highest gender-based violence rates in the world (Calfo, 2020). In 2015, 94% of patients treated by Doctors without Borders were female, with the most common source of injury stemming from domestic violence (Calfo, 2020). To promote women’s rights in Papua New Guinea, the UNFPA, known as the United Nations Populatino Fund, is working in several areas. The UNFPA is taking action towards preventing violence against women, while simutaneously increasing the reporting and prosecution of perpetrators (Gender equality and women’s empowerment, n.d.). Furthermore, the UNFPA is working on further health care support for victims of gender-based violence (Gender equality and women’s empowerment, n.d.). Furthermore, the UNFPA is working to promote further policies and legistlations that provide necessary services. The Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund is also working with organizations in Papua New Guinea to end sexual and gender-based violence and other women’s rights infringements (Papua New Guinea, n.d.).

 

Latin America and the Caribbean: Haiti

In Latin America and the Carribbean, Haiti ranks lowest with a score of 0.611. Regionally, Haiti ranks lowest in there categories. Regarding discriminatory norms, Haiti ranks with a percentage of 22% (Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Peace Research Institute Oslo, 2021).   Furthmore, the aggregate score (1-100) for abscense of legal discrimination, puts Haiti at only 63.8 (compared to Peru which has the highest score with 95) (Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Peace Research Institute Oslo, 2021). Lastly, Haiti ranks lowest in the region for the average number of years of schooling for girls, which is only 4.3 years (Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Peace Research Institute Oslo, 2021). Making matters worse, Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world and their lack of infrastructure, poverty and political instability further promote      negative effects on women’s rights (Friborg, 2020). It has been found that one in three women in Haiti between the ages of 15-49 have experienced some form of sexual or physical violence (Friborg, 2020).

The Women’s Peace and Humanitarian fund is also active in Haiti, having helped with 17 projects from 28 women’s led and women’s rights civil society organizations (Haiti, n.d.). These organizations work to end sexual and gender-based violence and to promote a safe environment for women (Haiti, n.d.). The U.S. Insitute of Peace has also helped in training women in Haiti on the use of cell phones and other informational technology to aid in reducing violence, an organization known as Digital Democracy (Jacobi, n.d.).

 

Central Eastern Europe and Central Asia: Azerbaijan

The final country of this article is Azerbaijan, which ranks in 130th place with an index of 0.630 (Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Peace Research Institute Oslo, 2021). In the Central Easern Europe and Central Asia region, Azerbaijan ranks lowest in three of the indicators used for the index. For organized crimes, Azerbaijan has 25.1 death per 100,000 battle deaths (Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Peace Research Institute Oslo, 2021). Furthmore, Azerbaijan has a son bias (male to female ration at birth) of 1.12 (Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Peace Research Institute Oslo, 2021). Lastly, Azerbaijan’s financial inclusion is only at 27.7% (Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Peace Research Institute Oslo, 2021). However, in addition to these rankings, it has been found that 74% of men in Azerbaijan beat their wives, and further, only 44 rapes are reported each year despite higher estimates (Buffaloe, 2020).

Azerbaijan does have several active NGO’s that work to promote women’s rights and equality. The Women’s Association for Rational Development has established both a gender and maternity school which aim to promote issues surrounding women’s rights and to foster a safe space for childbirth (Buffaloe, 2020). Furthermore, the Azerbaijan Feminist Group has been established which works to promote information on women’s rights (Azerbaijan Feminist Group, n.d.). This organization has established a public library accessible for women who would like more information on their rights or other human rights related issues (Azerbaijan Feminist Group, n.d.). The main purpose of this organization, however, is to introduce feminst concepts and debates to women in Azerbaijan, essentially promoting information on the issue (Azerbaijan Feminist Group, n.d.). The focus, therefore, is largely to promote education to women and participation.

 

Bibliography

Azerbaijan Feminist Group. (n.d.) Womenaid International. Retrieved June 20 from

http://www.womenaid.org/caucasusnow/English/directory/azfemgroup.html

Buffaloe, M. (2020, September 12). Examining women’s rights in Azerbaijan. The Borgen Project. Retrieved June 20 from https://borgenproject.org/womens-rights-in-azerbaijan/

Calfo, C. (2020, December 17). Introduction to women’s rights in Papua New Guinea. The Borgen Project. Retrieved June 20 from https://borgenproject.org/womens-rights-in-papua-new-guinea/.

Friborg, S. (2020, October 2). The fight for women’s rights in Haiti. The Borgen Project. Retrieved June 20 from https://borgenproject.org/womens-rights-in-haiti/

Gender equality and women’s empowerment. (n.d.). UNFPA. Retrieved June 20 from https://png.unfpa.org/en/topics/gender-equality-12.

Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Peace Research Institute Oslo. (2021). Women, Peace, and Security Index 2021/22: Tracking sustainable peace through inclusion, justice, and security for women. Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security Research Insitute Oslo. Retrieved June 20 from https://giwps.georgetown.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/WPS-Index-2021.pdf.

Haiti. (n.d.) Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund. Retrieved June 20 from 

https://wphfund.org/countries/haiti/.

Jacobi, E. (n.d.) Haiti: Women’s organizations and the role of new media. United States Institute of Peace. Retrieved June 20 from https://www.usip.org/haiti-womens-organizations-and-role-new-media

Papua New Guinea. (n.d.) Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund. Retrieved June 20 from  https://wphfund.org/countries/papua-new-guinea/.

Reyes, J. (2020, September 22) Improving women’s rights in Syria. The Borgen Project. Retrieved June 20 from https://borgenproject.org/womens-rights-in-syria/.

Sindani, L. (2022, May 26). South Sudan receives $70 million to support women’s social and e     conomic empowerment and strengthen institutional capacity. The World Bank. Retrieved June 20 from https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2022/05/26/south-sudan-receives-70-million-to-support-women-s-social-and-economic-empowerment-and-strengthen-institutional-capacity.

Syrian Women’s Network. (2017). Syrian Women’s Network. Retrieved June 20 from https://swnsyria.org/?p=5190.

Women from Sudan and South Sudan act together on gender issues. (n.d.) National Democratic Institute. Retrieved June 20 from https://www.ndi.org/sudan-south-sudan-womens-advocacy.

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