Woman safety

10 Worst Countries For Women

Bias towards men and gender-based injustice is common in many countries. Different studies measure the poor treatment of women in various ways to generate reports. There are some truly-horrific actions behind the statistics in these ten worst countries for women from the 2021-2022 WPS Report ranking 170 countries on the basis of women peace and security using the National Index Score:

1. Afghanistan - 0.278 (170/170)

Afghani women in burqas sitting on the roadside in Kabul. Editorial credit: timsimages.uk / Shutterstock.com

Afghanistan's aggressive gender-based roles and half-a-century-worth of conflict make it the worst country for women. It ranks last on the 170-country list in the WPS (Women, Peace, and Security) Index. It is also 157th of 162 in the UN Gender Inequality Index and ranks 7.2% for women's financial inclusion by WPS. Women's overall civil liberties in Afghanistan are severely restricted, which subjects them to one of the highest rates of intimate partner violence.35% of women are exposed to domestic violence, and 37% are illiterate, with known cases of being forced out of education. The girls in Afghanistan generally don't stay in school past second grade, with a third married by the age of 18 and facing a high chance of mortality during pregnancy. Illegal honor killings are also frequently practiced in the country.

2. Syria - 0.375 (169/170)

Syrian refuge woman
Syrian refuge woman and child at a refuge camp. Editorial credit: quetions123 / Shutterstock.com

The country is perpetually among the top-worst nations for females based on justice, security, and inclusion among 153 countries. Syria ranks very low on the WPS Index partly because of the ongoing "worst humanitarian disaster of our time." The situation turned from bad to dire in the traditionally-patriarchal nation when the war broke out in March 2011. There is regular rape and torture in secret prisons, persistent malnutrition, and normalized gender-based violence. The latter "continues to undermine the health, dignity, security, and autonomy of its victims in Syria." Syrian women gained a voice in national elections only in the mid-1950s, and honor killings were criminalized only in 2020, while marriage is still contracted between husband and father of the wife. 75 of every 100,000 Syrian women are killed in organized violence, and only 16.9% feel safe in their communities. According to Georgetown University, there is a "massive" number of conflict-related sexual violence, while only 25% of women report intimate-partner violence. The stats are much-worse for Syrian refugee women.

3. Yemen - 0.388 (168/170)

Yemeni women live in the open after being displaced from their homes due to the war in Taiz
Yemeni women live in the open after being displaced from their homes due to the war in Taiz. Editorial credit: akramalrasny / Shutterstock.com

Yemen's gender inequality, with a vulnerable female population, is deeply entrenched in the patriarchal society and rigid gender roles. Traditions and modern culture promote negative attitudes toward women, exacerbated by the discriminatory legal system and economic inequality. Only 6.04% of women are in the workforce, with "Article 40" in Yemen's Personal Status Law stating that women cannot work in the same capacity as men and their jobs must be approved by husbands. There are no legal sanctions or civil recourse for sexual harassment at work, while there is an "unspoken societal consensus that females are often at fault" for the incidents. Persisting conflict in the country with deteriorating effects has horrific consequences for women and girls considered secondary in society. Yemen is in a dire economic crisis, with damaged infrastructure and collapsed services. The extreme shortage of food, water, sanitation, and health care makes it impossible for women to fend for their family. They are also vulnerable to limited mobility and access to help due to cultural gender norms. Women have no right to make important family decisions, no statute to report spousal abuse, and are threatened by more abuse and arrest if they disclose.

4. Pakistan - 0.476 (167/170)

Pakistan women
Pakistani women in Thar carrying vessels with water on their heads to their homes. Editorial credit: SkycopterFilms Archives / Shutterstock.com

The 2021 WPS Index ranks Pakistan 167th out of 170 worst countries where women suffer extreme discrimination throughout their lifetime. Girls generally receive less than four years of education, and child marriage is common. The employment rate for women is 21%, along with only 7% for financial inclusion and "normalized" violence at the hands of the intimate partner. Violence against women and girls is a serious concern in Pakistan, with rape, illegal honor killings, acid attacks, and prevalent male dominance in the household.Gender discrimination in Pakistan largely stems from legal frameworks, biased roles, and norms of the society. There are also significant discrepancies in women's rights between the provinces that make the averages appear higher. These hide the extreme poverty and gender inequality in the lowest-ranked provinces that perform four times worse than the highest-ranking provinces.

5. Iraq - 0.516 (166/170)

women in iraq
Young girls in Iraq carrying a heavy jar of water to their home. Editorial credit: answer5 / Shutterstock.com

Protest movements in Iraq made news in October 2019 when countless journalists were threatened and killed in central and southern parts of the country. Militia groups were accused of arresting, kidnapping, and mercilessly shooting the reporters, on top of Iraq's unsolved 17 known murders in the last 15 years. The female population in Iraq suffers most from war and sectarian violence amidst ongoing debates on the discriminatory law that fosters gender inequality.The country continues to rank among the top worst for women due to enduring laws and normalized practices, including gender-based violence. In 2010, one in five Iraqi women was subject to domestic violence, and at least 36% of married Iraqi women experienced intimate abuse in 2012. A UN Women report confirms that the country's gender gap is also widening with "limited participation of women and girls in significant fields."

6. South Sudan - 0.541(165/170)

south sudan women
South Sudanese women and children take refuge at a refugee camp in Ethiopia to escape the conflict situation in South Sudan. Editorial credit: Richard Juilliart / Shutterstock.com

South Sudan is among the worst countries for women, with harmful gender norms that stem from traditionally patriarchal society. Longstanding conflict exacerbates imbalances within communities and at home. Women face persistent exclusion from decision-making and other political activity, which extends into very-minimal power to make decisions in the household. Lack of land rights and resource ownership give men the lee-way to dominate and control their intimate partners. According to the WPS Index, South Sudan ranked 165th out of 170 countries for women's rights and security in 2021. The country has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world, with at least one woman dying out of every 100 from complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Financial inclusion within community and society for women is less than 5%, and every fourth South Sudanese woman reports intimate partner violence. 

7. Democratic Republic Of Congo - 0.547 (163/170)

A woman with her children in Lukonga, DRC. Editorial credit: Valeriya Anufriyeva / Shutterstock.com

DR Congo ranks 163 out of 170 on the 2021 WPS Index and 150th out of 162 on the UN's 2020 Gender Inequality Index. There is stunted progress on gender equality and inequalities in all sectors. The nation is one of the least developed in the world, with persistent humanitarian needs where at least 7.5 million citizens require dire assistance. DR Congo could be Africa's wealthiest country with bountiful natural resources if it wasn't stuck in a perpetual rut. Discrimination starts at the legislature with a biased quarter of national laws that ripple effect into a culture where poor treatment of women is normalized. DR Congo was referred to as the "rape capital of the world" by a UN representative in 2010, with 48 rapes every hour, according to a study. Reports show that 37% of DR Congolese women face intimate-partner violence within one year-span, and over half will experience violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. 37% of Congolese women are married before 18, and 124 girls out of every 1,000 will have at least one child between the ages of 15 and 19. 65.8% of men and 36.7% of women receive education beyond primary grades.

7. Chad - 0.547 (163/170)

During times of drought, women in Chad walk long distances to collect water from the source in the extreme desert heat. Editorial credit: Amors photos / Shutterstock.com

Chad is eighth-worst, according to WPS, and ranked 160th out of 162 countries on the UN's Gender Inequality Index in 2020. Child marriage remains very common in Chad, with the median age at 16 for girls, and 22 for boys, as per a 2015 report by Concern. According to an interviewee, "early marriage is a custom" that endangers girls' lives through "pregnancy, surgery, death, and also several cases of running away." Chad is the second-worst for maternal mortality in the world, with 1,140 deaths for every 100,000 live births. Women complete under two years of education and are perpetually underrepresented in the Chadian parliament. The country also ranked worst for female genital mutilation practices until the Reproductive Health Law was enacted two decades ago. After the stats were publicized, the percentage of women reporting intimate partner violence decreased.

9. Sudan - 0.556 (162/170)

sudan women
Sundanese women including young girls on their way to work at a local marketplace. Education for girls gets low priority. ditorial credit: Galyna Andrushko / Shutterstock.com

According to UNICEF, over a third of Sudanese women between 15 and 49 believe their intimate partner can righteously beat them circumstantially. The proportionate amount of women between 20 and 24 were married or in a union before their 18th birthday. There have been several advances to women's rights in Sudan since 2019, like the criminalization of female genital mutilation.In the same year, the country met its target of 40% female representation in the transitional parliament. Some laws regarding women's rights were also revoked, with less control over what they wear and can do in their personal life and for work. The progress in recent advancements was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, when the number of women in parliament dropped to 22% in 2021. 

10. Sierra Leone - 0.563 (161/170)

A woman in Yongoro, Sierra Leone, had at work in the kitchen. Editorial credit: robertonencini / Shutterstock.com

Sierra Leone is one of the few countries on this list that has been relatively peaceful in the last two decades. The country's slow progress on gender inequality stems from crises, like the Ebola epidemic from 2014 to 2016, that resulted in sky-rocketing unplanned teen pregnancies. According to the WPS Index, only 45.8% of women feel safe at night on the streets of their communities. There are still outdated and outmoded gender norms and widespread female genital mutilation.90% of women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 experience some form of FGM within a lifetime. The country also ranks highest for maternal mortality, with 1,120 women dying out of 100,000 from complications during pregnancy or childbirth. A high majority of women receive under three years of schooling, where the teachers bluntly overlook school-related gender-based violence. The concern is working on a "Safe Learning Model" to stop normalizing and encouraging poor treatment of women from an early age.

These are the worst countries for women based on the peace and security of the female population out of 170 countries. Despite some advancements, progress on gender equality is slowed by conflict, underdevelopment, and traditional patriarchy, which means that many women continuously endure unimaginable suffering around the world every day.

The WPSI Index (2021-22); best country for women (rank1) - worst country for women (rank 170)

Rank Country National Index Score
1 Norway 0.922
2 Finland 0.909
3 Iceland 0.907
4 Denmark 0.903
5 Luxembourg 0.899
6 Switzerland 0.898
7 Sweden 0.895
8 Austria 0.891
9 United Kingdom 0.888
10 Netherlands 0.885
11 Germany 0.88
12 Canada 0.879
13 New Zealand 0.873
14 Spain 0.872
15 France 0.87
15 Singapore 0.87
15 Slovenia 0.87
18 Portugal 0.868
19 Ireland 0.867
20 Estonia 0.863
21 United States 0.861
22 Belgium 0.859
23 Latvia 0.858
24 Australia 0.856
24 United Arab Emirates 0.856
26 Croatia 0.848
27 Israel 0.844
28 Italy 0.842
29 Poland 0.84
30 Lithuania 0.833
31 Czech Republic 0.83
32 Hong Kong 0.829
33 South Korea 0.827
34 Serbia 0.826
35 Japan 0.823
36 Cyprus 0.82
37 Malta 0.815
38 Belarus 0.814
39 Slovakia 0.811
40 Georgia 0.808
41 Bulgaria 0.804
42 Montenegro 0.803
43 Jamaica 0.8
44 North Macedonia 0.798
45 Greece 0.792
46 Hungary 0.79
47 Costa Rica 0.781
48 Uruguay 0.776
49 Argentina 0.774
49 Bolivia 0.774
49 Ecuador 0.774
52 Trinidad and Tobago 0.771
53 Russian Federation 0.77
54 Mongolia 0.769
55 Romania 0.765
56 Bosnia and Herzegovina 0.764
56 Guyana 0.764
58 Albania 0.762
59 Kazakhstan 0.761
60 Turkmenistan 0.76
61 Philippines 0.758
62 Chile 0.757
63 Nicaragua 0.756
64 Mauritius 0.75
64 Moldova 0.75
66 Rwanda 0.748
66 South Africa 0.748
66 Ukraine 0.748
69 El Salvador 0.747
69 Ghana 0.747
71 Dominican Republic 0.746
71 Venezuela 0.746
73 Thailand 0.744
74 Lao PDR 0.741
74 Uzbekistan 0.741
76 Tanzania 0.739
77 Barbados 0.737
77 Kosovo* 0.737
77 Paraguay 0.737
80 Brazil 0.734
80 Fiji 0.734
80 Suriname 0.734
83 Panama 0.733
83 Peru 0.733
85 Armenia 0.727
85 Tajikistan 0.727
85 Zimbabwe 0.727
88 Mexico 0.725
89 China 0.722
90 Colombia 0.721
90 Kenya 0.721
92 Belize 0.72
93 Cambodia 0.719
93 Tonga 0.719
95 Namibia 0.714
95 Nepal 0.714
97 Bahrain 0.713
97 Kyrgyzstan 0.713
97 Qatar 0.713
100 Indonesia 0.707
100 Timor-Leste 0.707
102 Saudi Arabia 0.703
103 Malaysia 0.702
104 Honduras 0.698
105 Sri Lanka 0.697
106 Turkey 0.693
107 Viet Nam 0.692
108 Cabo Verde 0.69
109 Uganda 0.685
110 Oman 0.675
111 Mozambique 0.673
112 Maldives 0.671
113 Ethiopia 0.668
114 Benin 0.667
115 Guatemala 0.664
116 Zambia 0.661
117 Tunisia 0.659
118 Botswana 0.657
119 Sao Tome and Principe 0.656
120 Senegal 0.655
120 Togo 0.655
122 Côte d'Ivoire 0.654
123 Kuwait 0.653
124 Lesotho 0.65
125 Iran 0.649
126 Cameroon 0.648
127 Jordan 0.646
128 Malawi 0.644
129 Bhutan 0.642
130 Burundi 0.635
130 Nigeria 0.635
132 Azerbaijan 0.63
132 Lebanon 0.63
134 Myanmar 0.629
135 Comoros 0.628
136 Burkina Faso 0.627
136 Egypt 0.627
138 Equatorial Guinea 0.624
138 Morocco 0.624
140 Gabon 0.623
141 Algeria 0.616
142 Haiti 0.611
143 Mali 0.61
144 Angola 0.609
145 Papua New Guinea 0.604
146 Eswatini 0.602
146 Guinea 0.602
148 Gambia 0.597
148 India 0.597
150 Libya 0.596
151 Djibouti 0.595
152 Bangladesh 0.594
152 Liberia 0.594
152 Niger 0.594
155 Congo 0.582
156 Madagascar 0.578
157 Central African Republic 0.577
157 Mauritania 0.577
159 Somalia 0.572
160 Palestine* 0.571
161 Sierra Leone 0.563
162 Sudan 0.556
163 Chad 0.547
163 Democratic Republic of the Congo 0.547
165 South Sudan 0.541
166 Iraq 0.516
167 Pakistan 0.476
168 Yemen 0.388
169 Syria 0.375
170 Afghanistan 0.278

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