Caribbean countries some of best to be a girl

| 14/03/2011

(CNS): A new report published on Monday by the Royal Commonwealth Society and Plan UK, marking the Commonwealth’s 2011 theme ‘Women as Agents of Change’, revealed that Trinidad and Barbados are two of the best countries in the Commonwealth to be born a girl, whilst Sierra Leone and Nigeria are among the worst. The research also shows that girls and women continue to be seriously disadvantaged across the world. The report suggests that it is political will and not economic wealth which is most important in advancing gender equality. Some of the poorest countries in the Commonwealth do relatively well in the report, while some rich countries remain a long way off gender equality.

‘Because You’re a Girl: Growing Up in the Commonwealth’ compares how well girls and women
are doing relative to boys and men in their country across eight indicators. The report uses best available data on indicators that reflect various aspects of a girl’s life cycle, from survival, life expectancy and nutrition to achievement, such as the number of athletes and medals at the
Commonwealth Games, Commonwealth Scholarships won.

New Zealand tops the chart as the best place in the Commonwealth to be born a girl but it is closely followed by two Caribbean countries — Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. However, at the bottom of the chart, ranking joint 50th are Nigeria and Sierra Leone. India and Pakistan both score poorly, coming in 41st and 45th respectively.

Five times more girls between the ages of 15 and 19 give birth in Nigeria and Sierra Leone than in New Zealand on average, and girls in New Zealand can expect twice the number of years in school than girls in Nigeria.

The United Kingdom ranks joint 8th with Singapore and Rwanda – the Commonwealth’s
newest member state – and comes in at number 10 with the highest female participation in politics in the Commonwealth.

Poverty levels do not always correlate with levels of gender inequality. As Mozambique and Malawi score highly, despite being among some of the poorest countries in the Commonwealth while the Commonwealth’s richest country, Brunei Darussalam, only manages a rank of 23rd.
The report states that the starkest evidence of gender inequality is revealed by the pay gap indicator. Even in the best performing countries, women only earn around four-fifths of male income on average. In New Zealand – the star performer in the final rankings – women only earn around 72 percent of the average income.

Director of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Dr Danny Sriskandarajah said the report makes for worrying reading. “Even the countries at the top of the Commonwealth class fall short of true gender equality,” he said. “I hope Commonwealth leaders will show the political leadership that is needed to promote women as agents of change. This year, the Commonwealth has the opportunity to be at the vanguard of the fight for gender equality.”

Chief Executive of Plan UK, Marie Staunton, said that in the Commonwealth countries that have shown the political will there has been progress in realising girls’ rights, but much more needs to be done. Globally 75 million girls remain out of school and robbed of a fulfilling future. Often undervalued and neglected and held back by their gender and age, girls are prevented from contributing to the societies in which they live. This holds us all back. Plan’s ‘Because I am a Girl’ campaign challenges each of us to take practical action towards a Commonwealth and a world in which every girl can fulfil their potential,” she added.

See Queen’s speech for Commonwealth Day below

See report here

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Great article. Women are still treated as second class citizens amongst males. I think in part because some men feel threatened by the potential and intellect of women and some grew up watching their mothers take care of the men in the family and can’t see why that should change. In the professional world I have found it difficult and unfair as the men try to keep management a mens club. Cayman needs to step up to the plate, there are no enforced gender equality policies, which is apparent amongst law firms on this Island some of which have not a single female partner, because they live in the dark ages with primitive values. Many women are still playing the role of the home maker and local men just do not respect women, even enough to be loyal to them. This is clearly a lack of values past down from generations.