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Which Are the 10 Worst Countries For Women in 2024?

The status of women’s rights and gender equality around the world is a pressing issue that continues to be a concern for many. In 2024, certain countries stand out as the worst for women, with challenges to gender equality and high levels of violence. These countries are often tormented by poverty, conflict, and political instability, which affect women and girls. Let’s explore the top 10 worst countries for women, based on various factors such as gender inequality rankings, challenges faced by women, and efforts and progress made in addressing these issues.

List of 10 Worst Countries for Women 

  • Afghanistan
  • Syria
  • Yemen
  • Pakistan
  • Iraq
  • South Sudan
  • Burundi
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Somalia
  • Eswatini

1- Afghanistan

Afghanistan, a country that has long been plagued by conflict and instability, has consistently ranked among the worst countries for women in terms of gender equality. According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2023 by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Afghanistan has once again ranked at the bottom among 146 countries, with a gender equality score of 40.5%. The score is the lowest across all sub-indexes, except the Health and Survival sub-indexes, where it ranks 141st.

The situation of women in Afghanistan is dire. Circumstances have progressively become much worse since the Taliban seized power in August 2021. Girls have been banned from secondary school and women from tertiary education, and they have also been banned from entering amusement parks, public baths, gyms, and sports clubs for four months. 

The absence of public policies for women to gather and share their views and experiences, build communities, and engage on issues they consider important has left women without a pathway to participate in or influence decision-making. 

The situation of women in Afghanistan is also marked by high levels of violence, including rape. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, the country is ranked last on the Women, Peace, and Security Index.

According to a report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), at least 2500 cases of rape were reported in 2023 alone. The victims of rape in Afghanistan are often young girls, with the average age of victims being just 12 years old. Still, many cases go unreported due to the stigma and fear of retaliation.

Despite these challenges, there have been efforts and progress made to improve the situation of women in Afghanistan. UN Women, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) have been working to put women at the center of decision-making.

The consultations aim to maintain one of the few openings for women to voice their perspectives and exercise leadership. On the other hand, the international community has also been providing support to Afghan women.

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2- Syria

Syria has been embroiled in conflict for over a decade. According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2023 by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Syria is the second worst country for women, with a gender equality score of 36.6%. This score is the second-lowest across all sub-indexes.  

The conflict has affected women and girls’ ability to enjoy their most basic rights, such as the right to food and health. In Syria, approximately 6 million people are in severe need of nutritional aid and 74% of them are women and girls. 

The conflict has also led to a rise in gender-based violence, with most women and girls experiencing compounded forms of violence while facing high barriers to access humanitarian assistance and specialized services. Systematic attacks on healthcare facilities throughout the conflict have reduced women’s and girls’ access to reproductive healthcare services. 

Women and girls also experience discriminatory treatment based on their gender, in a variety of other contexts, such as when they are coping with the disappearance of their husbands and are left to fend for themselves as widows.

Despite these challenges, there have been efforts and progress made to improve the situation of women in Syria. The international community has been providing support to Syrian women, including reaffirming their commitment to supporting and realizing the rights of women and girls in Syria. Numerous Syrian women’s rights and civil society organizations are fighting to raise awareness.

However, more needs to be done by the primary duty bearers, namely the Government of Syria, as well as de-facto authorities in different parts of the country, to fulfill their international obligations and eradicate discrimination against women and girls.

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3- Yemen

Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab States region and has been experiencing a complex war and humanitarian crisis for years. The situation of women and girls in Yemen is challenging, with conflict adding layers of vulnerability and causing gender inequalities. In 2024, Yemen is considered the third worst country for women to live in.

One of the most pressing challenges faced by women in Yemen is severe hunger. Half of the population faces severe hunger, including 5 million children and 2.7 million pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. With fewer resources available for humanitarian aid, 2024 may be one of the most dangerous years yet for hunger.

Women in Yemen today face obstacles to complete political, economic, and social integration and equality. The representation in elected and public office is low; only 4.1% of administrative and decision-making positions are held by women. 

These worst conditions in Yemen have also led to an increase in early and forced marriages. Women and girls have been further affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has also increased their risk of social and domestic difficulties and affected their employment and access to care services. 

Efforts to address these challenges and promote gender equality in Yemen include the UNDP’s Gender Equality Seal Programme, which aims to economically and socially empower Yemeni women through employment, skills, and training, access to basic services, and meaningful participation in critical dialogue at the local, regional, and national level. 

The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies organized a workshop to gather insights, strategize on existing challenges, and explore opportunities for empowering women in post-conflict Yemen.

Despite these efforts, the progress towards gender equality in Yemen remains slow. The prolonged war in Yemen has had dire consequences for gender equality, and the country risks cementing this disturbing status quo or backsliding further without concerted efforts.

4- Pakistan

Pakistan, with a population of 107 million women, is facing a devastating situation in terms of gender equality. Pakistan ranked 142nd out of 146 economies on the Global Gender Gap Report 2023. 

One of the most pressing challenges faced by women in Pakistan is gender-based violence. A woman is raped every two hours in Pakistan, and the conviction rate remains low at 0.2%. These statistics highlight the unsafe conditions for women in the country and the need for stronger legal protection and enforcement mechanisms.

Efforts to address these challenges and promote gender equality in Pakistan include legislative reforms, such as the Protection of Women Against Harassment at Workplace Act and the Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Act. The Pakistani government has also shown its vision by introducing new initiatives to protect women all over the country. 

Amidst all these efforts, women in Pakistan continue to face economic disparities, including limited access to resources, unequal pay, and occupational segregation. Structural barriers such as lack of property rights, limited employment opportunities, and gender bias in the workplace negatively affect women’s economic empowerment and financial independence.  

5- Iraq

Iraq is one of the worst countries for women in 2024, according to the Gender Inequality Index (GII). Women hold only 25.2 percent of parliamentary seats, and only 22.7 percent of women have access to economic opportunities. 

The situation for women and girls in Iraq is threatening, with no women in the role of ministers and only 14 percent of women employed, compared to 73 percent of men. Women face numerous challenges, including domestic violence, forced marriage, “honor” crimes, and rape.

In terms of gender equality rankings, Iraq is considered the fifth worst country for women in the world. The country faces significant challenges in addressing gender inequality, which is deeply ingrained in its society. 

One of the most significant challenges faced by women in Iraq is the prevalence of sexual violence. Between 2003 and 2006, up to 3,500 Iraqi women disappeared, many feared to have been sold into sexual slavery. During the capture of Iraqi cities by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) in June 2014, there was an upsurge in crimes against women, including kidnapping and rape. 

Despite these challenges, there have been some efforts to address gender inequality in Iraq. The UNDP Iraq Country Office (CO) has reported modest gender equality results, despite a year fraught with conflict, an economic downturn, and COVID-19-related restrictions. 

UNDP Iraq programs have also created employment opportunities, provided entry to and participation in the political process, improved protection and prevention of violence against women, and supported women-led community-based initiatives to mitigate conflict and respond to disasters.

On International Women’s Day in 2024, high-level stakeholders from the Government of Iraq, the public and private sectors, civil society organizations, and international partners came together to amplify their commitment to investing in women’s empowerment. 

6- South Sudan 

South Sudan has made some progress in promoting gender equality, but it still faces challenges. According to the reports of the event “Accelerating Gender Equality in South Sudan #IWD2024,” women in South Sudan currently hold representation quotas in 35% of senior decision-making positions, with the opportunity to compete for the remaining 65% of leadership roles alongside men.

In terms of challenges faced by women, South Sudan has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world, with more than one out of every 100 pregnant South Sudanese women dying due to complications from pregnancy or childbirth. 

In 2018, 26.7% of women aged 15-49 reported that they had been subjected to physical or sexual violence by a current or former intimate partner. In South Sudan, women often face barriers to their sexual and reproductive health and rights, with a small number of women needing family planning.

Despite these challenges, there have been efforts and progress in recent years. The South Sudanese Bill of Rights and the National Gender Policy affirm equality and the preservation of human rights for women. The National Gender Policy also recognizes the challenges presented by high levels of SGBV, high levels of illiteracy among women, and pervasive patriarchal attitudes, which present barriers to women’s access to employment, political participation, and justice.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has also contributed to efforts to promote gender equality in South Sudan by mainstreaming gender in its programs and policies. UNDP also aims to contribute to the mandate of UNMISS (UN Mission in South Sudan) through the Access to Justice Programme and the Community Security and Arms Control Programme.

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7- Burundi

Burundi, a country located in the African Great Lakes region, has made some progress in promoting gender equality. According to the UN Women Africa’s Country Gender Equality Profile, Burundi ranks 11th on the African Development Bank report on gender equality in Africa. 

The Country Gender Equality Profile notes that Burundi has adopted a law targeting specifically sexual violence against women and has prioritized the elaboration of a national policy and action plan on gender equality.

The country has seen a significant increase in the number of women participating in national and local decision-making processes. In 2013, girls represented more than 50% of the total students, compared to 46% in 2004. Burundi has developed diverse strategies to increase gender-sensitive programming and has increased the number of women in its political landscape, economy, and defense forces.

Efforts to promote gender equality in Burundi are not limited to the government. The country has also received support from international organizations and development partners. The UN Women Africa, the African Development Bank, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation have all played a role in promoting gender equality in Burundi.

Despite these efforts, significant challenges remain. The country still faces socio economic problems, including limited funding, which can increase gender inequality. Moreover, the implementation gap identified in the World Bank’s Women, Business, and the Law 2024 report highlights the need for more comprehensive efforts to address gender inequality in various areas, including pay, parental rights, and workplace protections.

8- Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is one of the worst countries for women in 2024. The country is plagued by a myriad of challenges that affect women, including gender inequality, high levels of violence, and limited access to education and healthcare.

In terms of gender equality, the DRC ranks near the bottom of the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report. Women in the DRC face significant barriers to education, with many girls forced to drop out of school due to poverty, lack of resources, and violence.

One of the most pressing challenges faced by women in the DRC is the high rate of rape and sexual violence. According to a report, the country has one of the highest rates of rape in the world, with an estimated 3,000 cases reported in 2023. This violence is often perpetrated by armed groups, military personnel, and other armed people, and it is used as a weapon of war and a tool of intimidation.

The creation of a national task force in 2024 to combat sexual violence and the adoption of a new law criminalizing rape. There have been efforts to increase access to education and healthcare for women, including the implementation of a national health plan and the expansion of community-based health services.

However, these efforts have been limited in scope and impact, and much more needs to be done to address the root causes of gender inequality and violence in the DRC. 

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9- Somalia

Somalia has a UNDP Gender Inequality Index score of 0.776, which puts it on the list of countries with the greatest levels of inequality and among the worst for women’s rights.

Somalia faces a high rate of rape and sexual violence. According to a report by the United Nations, the country has one of the highest rates of rape in the world, with an estimated 91% of women aged 15 to 19 having undergone female genital mutilation, which has both short-term and long-term physiological, sexual, and psychological repercussions. 

Amidst these challenges, there have been some efforts and progress in Somalia in recent years. The Federal Parliament introduced the Comprehensive Sexual Offences Bill (SOB) to offer greater protection for the victims of sexual violence and represent a significant step toward ending gender-based violence. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Somalian Ministry of Health are working together to improve access to health care for women and children, particularly in remote, underserved areas, by deploying over 2100 community health workers, of whom more than 60% are women.

10- Eswatini

Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, is a small, landlocked country in Southern Africa. In terms of gender equality, Eswatini ranks poorly. According to the UNDP Gender Inequality Index, Eswatini has a score of 0.569. 

Women and girls in Eswatini face high rates of gender-based violence, with 18% of ever-married women and girls between the ages of 18 and 49 reporting domestic violence. In 2018, Eswatini adopted the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act, which introduced a comprehensive and gender-neutral definition of rape and criminalized marital rape and domestic violence. However, significant obstacles to implementation remain, including gender bias in the justice system and the consideration of evidence and witness testimony provided by women as unreliable.

Addressing the root causes of gender disparity will necessitate a persistent and concerted effort on the part of the government, as well as support for human rights and international cooperation.

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Conclusion 

Women face significant challenges worldwide. From limited rights to lack of access to education and healthcare, the situation is tough. However, progress is being made through advocacy and policy changes. These countries have shown determination to improve conditions for women. There’s hope that continued efforts will lead to greater gender equality and opportunities for women globally. It’s a challenging journey, but with awareness and action, positive changes can and will happen for women in these nations and beyond.

FAQs

1- Which Country has the Lowest Status for Women?

Afghanistan is the worst country for women to live in 2024. 

2- What are the Best Countries for Women in 2024?

The Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden are the three best countries for women to live in these times. 

3- What Crime do Women do the Most?

Women are usually involved in customer theft or shoplifting, cheque fraud, forgeries, deceptions, drug-related offenses, and prostitution.

Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

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