I read an old(ish) copy of the Economist’s article on “where to be female”,which, based on its EIU data, measured the “environment for female employees across 128 countries”.
Some of the article’s readers’ comments took the list quite personally and emotionally (see comments below the online version of the article).

And I found it amusing for two reasons:

  1. because I immediately thought of where half of that 1.5 billion formally unemployed  women would be as we speak. They’d be posting on a blog or reading one at least.
  2. because I didn’t find Malta listed anywhere on that list of 128 countries!

Burkina Faso and Samoa made it on the list.
I mean, Samoa has just about 184,000 Samoans.
And I need a map and a magnifying glass to find its location.
Malta is nearly three times the Samoans. (Although I’d still need a map and a magnifying glass to locate it).

A little more than half of the Maltese population on top of that is women.
Couldn’t they be rated for the sake of intelligence analysis?
I really honeycombed the document, but be my guest and try to find if Malta is ranked somewhere in there.
Malta, the Republic, not Malta, New York or Malta, Montana!

This aside, the EIU’s index according to which they assessed where it’s best and worst to be a woman comprises several factors like:

  • access to finance
  • education
  • legal and social status
  • training
  • economic environment

And when I began reading about the conditions in which some women across the globe live, it felt terrifying.
It made me realise I actually live in a big, fluffy, yellow cushion tucked among a few more big, fluffy (and not so fluffy) cushions.

In Sudan, ranking at the bottom – as 128th – for example, women have extremely limited rights to something that’s nearly natural occurrence in the western world. Besides that they’re not allowed to drive, have personal financial affairs, they get raped, murdered, and more raped at the level of a western woman going on a shopping spree during the first day of Christmas sales.
Women and children get raped and abused to such an extent that in one camp of 22,000 refugees “as many as 20 babies are being dumped” that have been a result of rape.
“Rape is a way of life for Darfur’s women” as this CNN article puts it.

The EIU paper continues with synopsis of women’s way of life in other bottom-of-the-list countries like Yemen, Chad, and Papua New Guinea.
I searched to read from more resources on these countries, too.
One thing was inevitable – making a comparison between myself (or average western women) and those living under sharia law or other oppressive and culturally or legally accepted norms and practices.
It felt depressing and sobering.
Although depressing isn’t the right word, because calling these human conditions “depressing” sounds like “pfff, this is depressing, I don’t want to hear more about it. Switch to MTV, please!”

The Economist’s article was an eye opener for me.
And not because of its statistics.

  • But because of its way of instantly connecting me with someone else’s reality in a depth different from the one that TV provides which would be not more than a 47 second blob that’d be abruptly interrupted by a detergent commercial.
  • Because it shook me up, in the middle of a very average Thursday afternoon while my safe kids are sleeping tight in their safe, soft, and silky beds.
  • Because it not only made me realise that “I worry about really stupid things sometimes”, but it also made me feel guilty for using these women’s suffering to comfort myself. And that is wrong.

The good thing about reading about and mentioning the women of Darfur or of Chad (and about other oppressed and suffering human beings), randomly, on an average Thursday or Tuesday afternoon, when it’s not World Women’s Day or World Refugee Day or any other ‘Day’, is all the more valid because we don’t need A Day to be informed and made aware of others; to think of others; to think of what we could do about others.

It’s good to talk about other people and other people’s lives with our kids, whenever possible.
I would do it.

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