10 most dangerous countries for women
In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly set 17 lofty goals to accomplish by 2030. Known as the Sustainable Development Goals, the objectives aim to create a more sustainable, egalitarian, and peaceful future. Number five on the list: achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
Despite enormous strides in women’s rights in recent decades, progress continues to elude many corners of the world. Women in such areas face hardships beyond patriarchal traditions and often suffer violence, economic discrimination, and limited access to meager health care.
To see which countries fare the worst, Stacker reviewed a 2018 survey conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, which determined the 10 most dangerous countries for women.
The foundation polled hundreds of international women’s issues experts on six core topics: health care; discrimination and access to economic resources; cultural traditions and religious practices; sexual violence: non-sexual violence; and human trafficking.
Scroll through the slides to see the most dangerous countries for women, as well as data from the CIA World Factbook on female life expectancy and median age.
All of the countries listed are in Asia, Africa, or the Middle East, except one: the United States.
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Correction: This story has been updated to accurately spell the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
#10. United States
Female life expectancy at birth: 82.2
Female median age: 39.4
Nearly 100 years since women were given the right to vote, the United States finds itself as #10 on the list of the most dangerous countries for women. And while the U.S. is certainly safer for women than other nations on the list, the prevalence of sexual violence—including rape and sexual harassment—brought it into the top 10, according to the experts polled. The foundation did note that the survey was conducted at the height of the #MeToo movement.
Female life expectancy at birth: 55
Female median age: 18.5
Nigeria’s prolonged conflict with rebel groups such as Boko Haram has resulted in acute violence against women. The most well-known example of such violence occurred in 2014 when more than 270 schoolgirls were kidnapped by militants in the town of Chibok in Borno State. The attack sparked international outrage and led to the viral hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. Nigeria also has high rates of human trafficking, according to the experts polled.
Female life expectancy at birth: 68.2
Female median age: 19.6
Yemen has been considered the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis” since the nation broke out in a civil war nearly four years ago. The conflict quickly developed into a proxy war in the region, which has left women with little access to health care or protection from violence. In total, more than 22 million people remain in need of urgent aid.
#7. Democratic Republic of Congo
Female life expectancy at birth: 59.3
Female median age: 18.8
With more than 200 ethnic groups and a weak central government, the Democratic Republic of Congo has long-suffered insurgent violence and pandemic poverty. The experts polled gave the country especially poor ratings on sexual violence against women, including rape being used as a weapon of war.
Female life expectancy at birth: 70.1
Female median age: 23.8
Pakistan remains a strict, conservative country where women face economic discrimination and physical violence that includes so-called “honor killings.” Women and girls also struggle for access to schooling. Malala Yousafzai, a young activist for girls' education, was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 while she walked to school. She was just 15 years old at the time. Yousafzai survived the shooting and received the Nobel Peace Prize two years later.
#5. Saudi Arabia
Female life expectancy at birth: 77.7
Female median age: 26.7
Despite recent steps toward gender equality—including allowing women to drive in June 2018—Saudi Arabia remains a strict, patriarchal society. Discriminatory social norms and exclusion from nearly all economic opportunities keep women largely dependent on their husbands or male relatives.
Female life expectancy at birth: 54.9
Female median age: 17.9
Decades of war and famine have left Somali women struggling for basic health care and civil protections. Maternal mortality and HIV rates remain high, and women continue to face harmful cultural practices such as female genital mutilation and child marriages.
Female life expectancy at birth: 77.6
Female median age: 24.8
The Syrian civil war has raged for more than seven years now, killing hundreds of thousands of people and leaving much of the country in ruins. The situation is especially dire for Syrian women, who suffer from massive health care shortages and high rates of non-sexual violence related to the war.
Female life expectancy at birth: 53.2
Female median age: 18.9
Despite the U.S. and others funneling billions of dollars into the country in recent decades, Afghanistan ranks the second most dangerous country for women. The ranking is due to the country’s high rates of female discrimination, non-sexual violence, and poor health care, according to experts.
Female life expectancy at birth: 70.1
Female median age: 28.6
The 2012 gang rape and fatal assault of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi shocked the world and sparked massive protests. Six years later, India is rated the most dangerous country on Earth for women, according to experts. The world’s largest democracy was ranked highest in terms of sexual violence and human trafficking, which includes forced labor and domestic servitude.