Iceland, Norway best for women; Syria, Afghanistan worst

NEW YORK: Iceland and Norway are the best countries for women, and Syria and Afghanistan the worst, according to an index that measures a host of global gains and failures. Measuring and improving women’s lives is key to peace and security of nations as a whole, said the designers of the new index, the Peace Research Institute Oslo and the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS).
The Women Peace and Security Index ranked 153 countries, which account for more than 98 per cent of the world’s population.
Measuring everything from violence to cellphone use, it found big gaps both within and among the various nations.
Melanne Verveer, GIWPS Executive Director, said: “If women are beat down, if their security situation is grim and deteriorating, if they are enormously marginalised, that is not a situation that is going to bode well for the country.”
But in many countries, progress has been dramatically uneven, it showed.
In South Africa, women have made strides in education and political representation, but fewer than three in 10 feel safe walking at night and a quarter report violence at the hands of an intimate partner, it said.
The index said that in Iran, most women have access to financial accounts and have more education than other women in the region.
Yet Iranian laws restrict married women from applying for passports, give husbands power to prevent their wives from working and do not protect women from domestic violence.
— Thomson Reuters Foundation