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Poll: Egypt worst on women’s rights; Comoros ranks best

A Saudi woman and her children get into a taxi in Riyadh on June 14, 2011. Photo by Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images

A Thomsen Reuters Foundation poll of women’s rights in 22 Arab nations released Tuesday found that women were treated the worst in Egypt overall, while they had the best economic and social freedoms in the small island of Comoros.

The survey of 366 gender specialists, including aid workers, policy makers, journalists, academics, and health care and legal assistants, was conducted in August and September. It ranked the 21 Arab League countries and Syria, which was suspended from the league in 2011.
Egypt received a low ranking for female genital cutting, sexual harassment and an increase in violence against women during the Arab Spring.

Meanwhile, Comoros — an island of about 752,000 in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Mozambique — tracked well for clamping down on sexual abuse and providing job opportunities for women.

The countries’ placement from best to worst were: (1) Comoros, (2) Oman, (3) Kuwait, (4) Jordan, (5) Qatar, (6) Tunisia, (7) Algeria, (8) Morocco, (9) Libya, (10) United Arab Emirates, (11) Mauritania, (12) Bahrain, (13) Djibouti, (14) Somalia, (15) Palestinian territories, (16) Lebanon, (17) Sudan, (18) Yemen, (19) Syria, (20) Saudi Arabia, (21) Iraq, and (22) Egypt.

Thomson Reuters has conducted past surveys of women’s rights worldwide, but this year decided to focus on Arab countries because of the lack of comprehensive data and to see what progress had been made since the Arab Spring started in December 2010, according to the foundation.

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