Top 20 least sexist countries in the world

sexist countriesHave you ever wondered which countries are the least sexist in the world?

The Global Gender Gap report calculates such a thing. The study chronicles gender disparities and progress for rights across the sexes in several countries. It essentially gauges the treatment of women using various data points including educational attainment, health, and political empowerment. The study encompasses life in all types of cultural environments and provides a glimpse into some of the most and least sexist countries on the planet. For 2011, 134 countries were studied.

Many of the top countries for equal rights and opportunities across the sexes are European. Also, two African countries make the top twenty, South Africa and landlocked Lethoso – a small country bordered entirely by South Africa. Aside from those two countries though, African nations dominate the bottom quarter with several entrants from the Middle East as well. Iceland takes top honors at number one and is followed by three of its Nordic brethren in the ensuing spots.

Have you ever experienced sexism while traveling? Check out the full report here.

20. Canada
19. United States
18. Latvia
17. Netherlands
16. Sri Lanka
15. United Kingdom
14. Belgium
13. Germany
12. South Africa
11. Spain
10. Switzerland
9. Philippines
8. Lesotho
7. Denmark
6. Ireland
5. New Zealand
4. Sweden
3. Finland
2. Norway
1. Iceland

And the seven worst countries in the study:

7. Benin
6. Saudi Arabia
5. Côte d’Ivoire
4. Mali
3. Pakistan
2. Chad
1. Yemen

The Global Gender Gap Report 2010

Strictest dress codes – 5 countries with fashion police

dress code countries

Earlier this week, the “Burqa Ban” went into effect in France. Since passing into law, several burqa draped women have already been arrested, and the symbolic law is causing an uproar among the Muslim population of France and beyond. However, France is not the only country with authoritative garment laws. Many countries possess laws that limit what citizens and visitors are allowed to wear.

According to Foreign Policy magazine, these five countries have some of the strictest dress code laws in the world. The list includes countries from three continents, though France is the lone western world inclusion. It is odd that a country known for its fashion houses and pioneering designers is also home to such an autocratic fashion law. I would expect this sort of posturing from the American South, but clothing oppression along the Champs-Élysées seems a bit misplaced.France – Ban on burqas and niqabs
In April 2011, France’s law against burqas and niqabs went into effect. Essentially, the law is a ban on the traditional female Muslim dress and allows a police officer to verbally request removal of the veil before escorting any violator to a police station for ID verification and removal. Gadling blogger Meg Nesterov covered all of the details in a post earlier this week. The fine is 150 Euros for a first time offender and 30,000 Euros for a male that forces a woman to wear a burqa or niqab. I believe the excessiveness of the 30,000 Euro fine reveals the true intent of the law, but to fight the perception of oppression across cultures with oppression is a bizarre strategy.

Saudi Arabia – Ban on bare skin and cross-dressing
The old Kingdom of Saud has always been a leader in fashion constriction. Saudi Arabia is home to some of the strictest social laws on the planet, many applying exclusively to women. This separation of legal restrictions by sex seems austere by western standards, and though every country governs from a different cultural perspective, Saudi Arabia seems excessively sexist – placing 129 out of 134 countries in the 2010 Global Gender Gap Report. Aside from requiring a male guardian, a Saudi Woman must also wear a niqab and abaya in public as to not expose bare skin. Men also have restrictions – they are not allowed to cross-dress.

dress code countriesBhutan – Required gho and kira in public
Considered one of the happiest countries on the planet, Bhutan calculates its output in GNH – Gross National Happiness. While it is rare to read a word on Bhutan without being reintroduced to this policy on happiness, there are also other, less known measures in place to maintain Bhutanese culture. For example, all Bhutanese citizens must adhere to a strict dress code. In public, men must wear a gho – a knee length robe, and women must wear a kimono known as a kira. The dress code is older than the current kingdom and is known as Driglam Namzha.

North Korea – No pants for ladies and hair cuts for man
The hermit kingdom is one of the least visited countries on the planet. The lack of outside influences has bolstered the frozen in time North Korean culture. North Korea has a dead president, a money-pit ghostscraper, and laws governing a man’s maximum hair length. In North Korea, men are supposed to trim their hair every 15 days, and older men are given leniency so that their hair can grow long enough to cover bald spots. While most men are allotted a maximum hair length of two inches, fifty year old men and older can grow their hair an additional 3/4 inch. Women are not permitted to wear pants, and if an infraction occurs, the pant wearing offender faces a stint at one of the North’s horrendous labor camps.

Sudan – No make-up for men and lashes for pant-wearing women
In Sudan, women are punished for wearing pants with lashes and a hefty fine. Sudanese public decency laws are extremely strict and bear the beliefs of the predominantly Arab north. The tumultuous country is home to violent religious differences. With almost 600 ethnicities and a serious wedge between the Muslim north and Christian south, Sudan has been a poster child for racial intolerance for decades. While women are prohibited from wearing trousers, men too have laws governing their behavior. Last December, seven men were arrested and charged with public indecency for wearing makeup at a fashion show.

flickr images via Ranoush & Jadis 1958

Bahrain Protests: What you need to know (including where it is on a map)


bahrain protests

The small country of Bahrain is now well into its third day of protests. Following the fall of Mubarak in Egypt, countries like Bahrain, Yemen and Libya have attempted to create a “Tahir Square movement” to create change in their own country.

The country, like Egypt, is protesting the lack of political freedom and economic opportunity. Protests have generally been peacful until police forces killed two protesters yesterday and attempted to subdue crowds by use of rubber bullets and tear gasses.

Bahrain protesters are calling for a new constitution as well as the release of hundreds of Shia men and boys who have been rounded up since August 2010 and an end to civil rights abuses.

The king went on state television promising to investigate the deaths of the two protesters and offering to set up a committee to discuss change, BBC reported.

Like in Tunisia and Egypt, social media is playing a key organizing role (see this great list of people to follow).

Where’s Bahrain, you ask? The small island country has Saudi Arabia to the west and Qatar to the southeast.

Photo of the Day (11.16.10)

This Sunday marked the beginning of the Hajj, the world’s largest annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. As the fifth pillar of Islam, the pilgrimage is a religious duty that must be carried out by every able-bodied Muslim that can do so. Saudi officials have reported that a record-breaking 3.4 million people are expected to come from all corners of the globe to perform the Hajj this year.

This astounding photo, titled “Headed to Mecca” was taken by Flickr user Theodore Kaye as a mother prepares to leave Osh, southern Kyrgyzstan for Mecca. I love that Theodore was able to be present for and capture the intimacy of this moment and took advantage of the lighting to make the image even more beautiful. The result of being in the right place at the right time, and knowing how to capture a great photograph.

If you want to see more of the Hajj, Boston.com put up an amazing series of images of this year’s processions. Also worth checking out is VBS.tv’s short documentary of an inside look at the pilgrimage. What’s your personal Mecca? Share it with us by adding photos to our Flickr group and it could be our next Photo of the Day.

Huge dust storm plunges Saudi capital into total darkness

Riyadh was hit by a massive dust storm this afternoon, shutting down all air traffic and forcing residents inside. With visibility under 200 meters, most traffic came to a standstill.

The video you see above was actually taken right before the capital of Saudi Arabia was plunged into darkness for most of the afternoon.

Scary stuff.