The survey completed by the Thomson Reuters Foundation legal news service found that Canada is the best country to be a woman among the G20 countries and India to be the worst. South Africa came in near the bottom being placed sixteenth in the ranking.
Policies that promote gender equality, safety against violence and exploitation and access to healthcare are what places Canada as the best place to be a woman among the world’s biggest economies. In India, problems include infanticide, child marriage and slavery that place them as the worst.
“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 second-rate citizens,” said Thomson Reuters Foundation CEO, Monique Villa. “This poll also shows that laws and treaties on women’s rights often don’t reflect the reality on the ground.”
The survey looked at how women fare in the categories of: quality of health, freedom from violence, participation in politics, workplace opportunities, access to resources and freedom from trafficking and slavery.
Director of the Women’s Legal Centre Jennifer Williams says, “Although in South Africa we have a good constitution and legal framework, we have some of the highest levels of violence against women in the world (public and private), our society is very patriarchal, and women bear the brunt of the high levels of economic inequality. Women are still discriminated against indirectly in relation to access to resources, such as housing and sanitation.”
The Grant Thornton International Business Report 2012 found that in South Africa 28% of senior management positions are held by women. The proportion of women on boards of JSE-listed companies has more than doubled since 2004; however, they still represent less than one in six of all members.
Williams states that the biggest challenge facing South Africa is the implementing of policies and laws that reduce levels of violence against women and provide women with equal opportunities and resources.
“The state focus on building infrastructure in order to create jobs will mainly benefit men. The industries and sectors chosen are male dominated, such as construction. Women are employed primarily in the informal and domestic sectors. In order to create genuine opportunities we need to look at creating jobs for women and providing child care support,” says Williams.